Although most tend to think of New Year’s Eve as the most dangerous for holiday travelers, the truth is Thanksgiving is typically far more perilous. Hundreds of people a year are killed in crashes during the Thanksgiving travel period. In fact, Thanksgiving Day was reported to be the single deadliest day on U.S. roads in several of the last 15 years.
AAA reports the 2019 Thanksgiving travel season will see the second-highest volume of holiday road traffic since the agency began keeping track almost 20 years ago. An estimated 55 million people will be taking a trip of 50 miles or more, and 49 million of those will be driving. In Florida, there will be at least 3 million travelers.
AAA predicts major road delays throughout the entire week, peaking Wednesday afternoon the day before Thanksgiving. Orlando, Miami, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale are listed as prime national destinations for holiday travelers, which means Florida roads especially will be crammed – and dangerous.
Holiday Driving Hazards
Traffic congestion isn’t the only common roadway hazard over the holiday. Others include:
- More vehicle breakdowns (flat tires, lockouts, dead batteries);
- More driver fatigue, road rage and speeding (many employers don’t give their workers Wednesday off, leading to rushed, stressful, exhausting road travel; travel times in some cities is expected to be four times longer than a typical trip);
- More distracted driving (motorists unfamiliar with their location may be more prone to be on their electronic devices as they navigate);
- More drunk driving (whether it’s the sherry at Thanksgiving dinner or all the college students in town visiting their friends the night before, drunk driving crashes, injuries and deaths spike on Thanksgiving);
Vehicle breakdowns on the side of the road can pose real danger to other motorists too, especially if they’re blocking any lanes of travel. Breakdowns are usually avoidable with a basic, pre-travel vehicle “checkup” to ensure tires, brakes, windshield wipers, lights and other critical safety systems are in good working order.
AAA recommends driving during hours when you are typically awake, getting plenty of rest before setting out and scheduling breaks every 100 miles/two hours to stay alert.
Highway accidents aren’t the only type of car-related risk over the holidays. Back-over pedestrian accidents are fairly common too – at home or outside packed shopping centers (particularly on Black Friday).
Thanksgiving Car Crash Compensation
Most holiday auto accidents are caused by preventable driver negligence. In such incidents, drivers/their insurers have a legal responsibility to pay for the damages. Ensuring fair payment, however, can be a challenge.
At minimum, Florida drivers are required to carry at least $10,000 in bodily injury liability insurance per person and $20,000 per crash, plus $10,000 for property damage and $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP). As a no-fault auto insurance state, your own auto insurer will be the first in line for responsibility. But PIP only covers medical bills (only $2,500 for non-emergency costs) and just a portion of lost wages. Stepping outside that no-fault system to hold another driver responsible requires proof of the other driver’s negligence and evidence that you meet the serious injury threshold, as outlined in F.S. 627.737.
An experienced South Florida car accident lawyer can help determine the merits of your case, negotiate with insurers and, if necessary, take your claim to trial.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.