There are more fatalities on Texas roadways during Thanksgiving week than any other holiday season, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Experts recommend drivers take precautions to stay safe.
The American Automobile Association projects that nearly 4 million Texans will travel Wednesday through Sunday this year — the most since 2005. AAA said that Wednesday will be the heaviest traffic day of the week, causing trips to take up to four times longer than usual. TxDOT public information officer Bobby Colwell said there is more potential for accidents when there is heavy traffic on the holidays.
Between 2014 and 2018, 251 people died during their travels throughout the state for Thanksgiving, according to TxDOT. Memorial Day weekend follows close behind with 229 deaths; the Christmas holiday season has the fewest roadway deaths with 192.
Colwell said people can reduce their chances of being in a car crash by paying close attention while driving, avoiding driving under the influence and leaving for trips ahead of time to avoid traffic and speeding. Additionally, Colwell said, people should drive slower in inclement weather.
If someone does end up in an accident, Colwell said they should stay in their vehicle, drive out of the way of traffic if possible and call 911.
“It’s very serious to get behind the wheel of a car, and we want people to treat it that way,” Colwell said.
In the AAA’s 2019 projection notice, AAA Texas Vice President and General Manager Kent Livesay said the nearly record-breaking numbers are the result of a strong economy that permits people to take a trip away from home this holiday season.
“Consumer spending remains strong, and for Texans travel remains one of their top priorities for the holiday season,” Livesay said.
Gas prices in Texas have fluctuated recently but currently are 11 cents cheaper than Thanksgiving 2018’s statewide average. AAA said this has given residents extra money and motivated road trips during the holiday week.
In total, 4.1 million people will be traveling during the week, with the majority on the roadways but 267,000 by air and 90,000 by trains and buses. For those who are flying, AAA recommends they leave Monday.
Colwell said that 94 percent of accidents are preventable and encourages drivers to take the proper precautions during their upcoming trips.
“Be courteous to one another and lets all arrive safely at grandmother’s house,” Colwell said.
To keep up with roadway construction that travelers may have to contend with, visit the TxDOT Project Tracker.