What Are Common Causes of Thanksgiving Car Accidents?

car accident

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, people are focusing on celebrating with family and friends. Most people travel by car to be with friends and family on Thanksgiving, and some travelers will drive over 50 miles to be with loved ones. In some cases, the trek will require many hours behind the wheel, both coming and going.

While Thanksgiving is Thursday, the holiday period starts on Wednesday evening and ends Sunday. Traffic is heavy throughout the holiday period, as drivers head to and from gatherings.

While the ongoing coronavirus pandemic may have lightened traffic in 2020, many people are planning get-togethers this year. The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts traffic will rise to about 53 million. This busy holiday is also known for car accidents. Between 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday and 3:00 a.m. on Thursday, accidents increase by 17 percent.

Along with heavy volumes of traffic and the sense of urgency everyone has behind the wheel when they are headed to a holiday event, there are many reasons for Thanksgiving car accidents. Listed below are common causes of Thanksgiving car accidents.


Speeding is one of the most common causes of car accidents, and it is also one of the most tempting poor driving behaviors. When there is a lot of traffic on the road, drivers are tempted to speed to get to their destination. However, there are reasons why speed limits are set. It is based on traffic, population density, and road conditions.

Speeding is never a good idea. Your reflexes may be quick enough to react to a change in the road, but it will take time for the vehicle’s brakes to slow down enough to stop or switch lanes.

Speeding is not only a common cause of accidents, it also makes them substantially worse. The impact of a collision is worse if a car is traveling at a high speed at the time of the accident.


Despite efforts to multi-task, humans prove over and over that two tasks cannot be effectively done at once. The cellphone is often listed as the number one cause of distracted driving accidents. It truly is a distraction, and it quickly takes your eyes and attention away from the road.

Alternatively, you can use Bluetooth if you have to make a call while in the car. However, you should know that even operating the cellphone hands-free while driving is distracting. In the best-case scenario, the cellphone should be stowed away in the glove compartment.

Additionally, passengers can also be distracting. While there may be misbehaving or loud passengers in the back seat of the car, you must always pay attention to the road. If there is a problem that requires your attention, pull over so you can do so safely. Given that many of those traveling on Thanksgiving likely have passengers, keep in mind that pulling over is a far better option than turning around or constantly using the rear-view mirror.

Drunk Driving

Despite decades of public outreach to curb drunk driving, the problem continues to be an issue. With the Thanksgiving holiday, many people will be having drinks with their feast and at events before and after. The Wednesday night before the holiday is one of the busiest bar nights of the year, as people gather for a drink before the holiday.

While getting together with friends and family for a few drinks will likely be in the plan for many this holiday, there is no reason that driving home afterwards needs to be part of that plan. Whether the place you are visiting is in a rural area or a city, there are many options available to you. Have a designated driver help you get home safely. If that is not an option, you can utilize a rideshare service.

If you have to drive on Thanksgiving, be aware of your surroundings. Drunk drivers are unpredictable, so keeping your eyes on the road is even more important. You may need to act fast to get around them.

Drowsy Driving

Around the holidays, many people lose sleep. Most drivers will be logging in at least 50 miles to get to their destination, and the roads will be clogged with other drivers trying to get to festivities. As a result, there will be many drowsy drivers.

Drowsy driving is often compared to drunk driving because they both cause a delayed reaction time as well as impairment. Drowsy drivers often microsleep for a few seconds. That is plenty enough time to get into an accident. Even if an overtired driver does not nod off, that driver is going to have a slow reaction time to changes in the road, such as when the driver in front slams on their brakes.

If you feel drowsy while driving, it is best to pull over and take a nap, or switch the driving responsibilities with a passenger. If it is possible, go to sleep and leave in the morning. Traffic will likely be lighter then as well.

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Wiggins Law, LLC Can Help You After a Thanksgiving Collision

If you plan to travel for Thanksgiving, you should be extra cautious. If you have been injured by a reckless motorist, our experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Wiggins Law, LLC can help. Call us at 267-225-0770 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Northeast Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the Philadelphia area, including Philadelphia and Northeast Philadelphia including Kensington, Tacony, Torresdale, Mayfair, Port Richmond, Allegheny, and Olney, Pennsylvania.