Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission
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Driving Dangers Compounded Over Thanksgiving Holiday

A combination of winter weather, impaired drivers and other factors have proven deadly on Iowa highways during past Thanksgiving holiday weekends.

Over the last decade, traffic fatality data shows the Thanksgiving holiday (Wednesday noon to midnight Sunday) as having the highest number of highway fatalities of the six different holiday periods tracked by the Iowa Department of Transportation. In the last two years, 12 people were killed in traffic crashes over the extended weekend, four of those fatalities involved crashes with impaired drivers.

While even one death on Iowa roadways is too many, a number of factors have combined to make 2012 one of the lowest on record for Iowa traffic fatalities. To continue the trend, there are several steps people can take to make the roads safer throughout the holiday season.

  • Do not drink and drive. If you are attending an event where alcohol is served, designate a nondrinking driver to drive home from the party and stick with that decision.
  • Put your mobile phone away. Distractions due to talking or texting while driving are leading causes of motor vehicle crashes.  
  • Ensure that everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seat belt – all positions, all ages.
  • Do not follow too closely behind another vehicle, especially in heavier traffic or when you are traveling at higher speeds.
  • Obey posted speed limits. Slow down if your vision is limited by heavy rain, fog or snow.
  • Monitor weather-related travel conditions. Listen to forecasts; and check road conditions by downloading the “Iowa 511” app to your smart phone, visiting http://www.511ia.org or calling 511.
  • Avoid traveling during peak traffic periods, including Wednesday evening, Thursday morning, and Sunday afternoon and evening.

To see a list of holiday fatality numbers dating back to 1962, visit http://www.iowadot.gov/mvd/ods/stats/holidayfatalities.pdf