Statistics Transportation

NSC estimates more than 400 people may be killed in traffic crashes over Thanksgiving weekend

holiday traffic
Photo: alexandragl1/iStockphoto

Itasca, IL — The National Safety Council estimates that as many as 433 people may be killed and 49,400 seriously injured in motor-vehicle crashes during the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

Alcohol is a persistent factor in fatal crashes. Historical trends show that, on average, more than one-third of deaths during the Thanksgiving holiday involve alcohol-impaired drivers.

Because the day before Thanksgiving is known for its high volumes of both travel and alcohol consumption, the council warns drivers to be particularly vigilant at the start of the holiday period, which runs from 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21, to 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25.

“Everyone wants a holiday to remember, but not for the wrong reasons,” NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a press release. “Let’s keep our holiday gatherings out of the emergency room by making smart decisions that don’t involve drinking and driving. Plan ahead so you don’t put yourself or others at risk on the road.”

NSC offers the following tips to help drivers stay safe during Thanksgiving travel:

  • Buckle up before every trip.
  • Make sure children are properly restrained in the appropriate seats for their height, weight and age.
  • Drive attentively and disconnect – even hands-free cellphone use is risky.
  • Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue.
  • Understand how opioid pain relievers may affect your ability to drive safely. Visit to learn more.