We are discussing a recent study from the University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety about traffic accidents in the state over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. The researchers analyzed 10 years of crash data from the Alabama Department of Public Safety and found, to the surprise of most, that the days leading up to Christmas logged the most motor vehicle accidents.
A study from the University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety shows that the days around Christmas are more dangerous for motorists in the state than the days around Thanksgiving and New Year's. In 2012, for example, the Alabama Department of Public Safety reported 1,996 vehicle accidents for the Christmas period, 18 percent more than the days around Thanksgiving and 27 percent more than the New Year's period.
Even if department stores did start decorating for Christmas back in September, most Americans think of Thanksgiving as the "official" start of the holiday season. Black Friday kicks off the shopping season, invitations to holiday parties start to roll in, and we begin to plan for that holiday family visit. And this year especially, because Christmas is on a Wednesday, there is the added complication of figuring out which days to travel on. In other years, we have been able to include weekends in our plans, but mid-week holidays can be tougher to arrange.
Those who haven't taken a trip to the local car dealership in quite some time will more than likely be amazed at the relative complexity of today's modern vehicle. To illustrate, many sedans, minivans, sport utility vehicles and even pickup trucks are now equipped with sophisticated navigation systems, in-car entertainment systems and even communication systems, all of which can be controlled by a voice interface system.
Even if airports are jam-packed with travelers over Thanksgiving, the roads will be even busier. According to AAA, nearly 39 million of the 44 million travelers over the holiday will be driving, and they will be driving an average of 300 miles each way. That's a lot more time in the car -- or behind the wheel -- than many people are used to.
The National Transportation Safety Board thinks a "sister" agency could do better.
We usually think of the National Transportation Safety Board as the agency that investigates major accidents. According to its website, NTSB investigators determine the probable cause of every civil aviation accident as well as significant railroad, highway, marine and pipeline accidents. An accident does not have to claim any lives to warrant the board's involvement, either: The NTSB is one of the agencies looking into the recent train derailment in Alabama that resulted in no injuries at all.
A lawsuit against the driver of a pickup truck who caused a fatal multi-vehicle accident in May has been put on hold for 90 days. A Madison County court granted the defendant's request for a stay last week, agreeing that the civil matter should be backburnered until the criminal investigation is complete.
In our last post, we wrote about an Alabama driver who fell asleep at the wheel and was in a terrible accident. He lived, but his passenger died. Now that passenger's mother is working to make Alabama one of the few states in which drowsy driving is illegal.
We often talk about drunk driving and distracted driving, but this is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week (Nov. 3-10), so we are going to talk about another avoidable cause of accidents. It may sound like a problem for the elderly or workers on late-night shifts, but AAA reports that drowsy drivers cause 1 out of every 6 fatal accidents.