This Thanksgiving weekend Georgians will head out to be with families and friends. We'll eat and visit and be grateful for all we have been given in this nation. Some of us, of course, also will shop!
But the sad truth is that some of us here in Georgia may die or be seriously injured in car accidents this very weekend. So I hope, that in the midst of the fun and joy, people here in Georgia will take just a minute to think about the fact that we need to be exceptionally cautious this weekend.
Being an auto accident lawyer, when I had questions about how dangerous Thanksgiving weekend could be in terms of car accidents, I turned to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System maintained by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA. According to what I learned from that database, 13 people died across Georgia in 12 different accidents over the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
People were killed in fatal car wrecks all over the State of Georgia, and not simply (or even mostly) in the Atlanta metro area. Two people were killed in deadly car crashes in Macon, and another person died in a Buford auto crash. One person was killed in a Valdosta car accident, and another in a Savannah auto collision. A person was killed in a car crash near Carrollton, and another in a Covington car accident. These fatal car accidents happened not just on the mega interstates, like I-75, I-95, I-475, and I-85, but also on smaller or more local roads, like Glade Farm Rd. in Hall County, Boring Pond Rd. in Lowndes County, Brewton Lovett Rd. in Laurens County, S. Bogan Rd. in the city of Buford in Gwinnett County, and Muse Bridge Rd. in Carroll County.
The large number of deaths from Thanksgiving car accidents was no fluke. In fact, even more people died over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2008. That year, 18 people were killed in car accidents in Georgia. The most dangerous holiday of 2008 was Christmas, when 25 people were killed in 25 different auto crashes. Twenty-one people were killed in Independence Day car collisions over the Fourth of July weekend. Thanksgiving was tied with Labor Day for third deadliest holiday weekend of the year, with each holiday seeing 18 people killed around Georgia.
Over the 2009 Thanksgiving weekend, someone was killed in a car accident here in Georgia every day of that four-day holiday. Surprisingly to me, relatively fewer people were killed on Black Friday, November 27, 2009. In a single, horrific accident, two people died that Friday.
I had thought that the heavy mall and shopping traffic that day would make that one of the most dangerous days of the weekend. However, each of the other days saw even more people killed. Three people were killed in car accidents on Thanksgiving Day, four more were killed on Saturday, November 28, 2009, and another five people lost their lives in fatal traffic crashes on Sunday, November 29, 2009.
Significantly, these figures from NHTSA do not include any of the people who were seriously injured over the Thanksgiving weekend. Even if someone suffered serious personal injuries in a car wreck - a head injury, multiple broken bones, or quadriplegia or paraplegia - the database is limited to car accidents in which someone was killed. Unless someone died in those serious wrecks, then, they were not even in the FARS database.
So when you go visiting and shopping this weekend, remember that you are one of the things for which your relatives and friends are the most thankful - and watch out while you are driving!