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Thanksgiving Day Driving Dangers

Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful for all the blessings in your life. It’s also a day to be thankful if you happen to make it to Black Friday. Most people don’t realize that Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous days to get behind the wheel.

Rosalita Allen was driving to pick up one of her granddaughters just before noon on Thanksgiving last year when she noticed flashing police lights and a blocked road straight ahead.

English: Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine,...

English: Thanksgiving Dinner, Falmouth, Maine, USA 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Her daughter, Tammy Allen, 41, had been on her way to pick up her then-16-year-old son and go to Rosalita’s for the holiday. Four blocks away, Tammy clipped another car as she tried to change lanes, sending her into oncoming traffic. She hit two vehicles, one of them head-on. Tammy died instantly at 11:38 a.m.

Thanksgiving was the deadliest holiday in 2010, according to the most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2010, 431 people died on the roads nationwide, compared with 259 on Christmas, 403 on Labor Day and 392 on the Fourth of July.

An estimated 90 percent of Thanksgiving travelers will drive to their destinations this Thursday, according to the AAA auto club. That’s 39.1 million people on the roads.

Sharma said car accident injuries can vary depending on what time the accident happens. During the day, when roads are gridlocked, collisions happen at lower speeds and result in more minor injuries, including bruises and neck injuries.

Late at night, however, ER doctors start seeing more serious injuries as travelers are able to go faster on the emptying roads. The holiday alcohol and distracting family drama can also contribute to slower reaction times.

And as it gets later, more impaired drivers get behind the wheel. Between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. are normally the worst hours. By 2 a.m. on Thanksgiving, drivers might be traveling so fast that they look like they’re “drag racing,” causing cars to lose control and even flip over.

That means, broken bones, internal bleeding, head injuries and even death.

Seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injuries in cars by 45 percent, according to AAA. In “light” trucks, they reduce that risk by 60 percent.

Neither Tanya McCoy nor her 10-year-old son, Andrew, were wearing their seat belts as they left their Bonners Ferry, Idaho, home at 7 a.m. on Thanksgiving 2010. Sean McCoy, Tanya’s husband, described her as a “short, little redhead who was pretty fiery.” She was also a triathlete.

Tanya was on her way to help out with a Thanksgiving Day run called the Turkey Trot.

Just two miles from home, Tanya came to a hill she’d traveled hundreds of times, but this time, there was a patch of black ice. The car skidded across the road, hit a barricade and tumbled 300 feet to the bottom of a canyon, where she and Andrew were ejected from the car.

But no one saw them.

When the race ended and they didn’t come home by 1 p.m., Sean became worried. The sheriff tried to help, but no one could find them. Finally, Sean saw the tire marks on the barricade. Looking into the canyon, he saw a piece of the car.

Neighbors came out to help, but the helicopters couldn’t land in the bad weather. It would take hours for the ambulance to get there.

The hospital was able to keep Andrew alive, but Tanya died in Sean’s arms. Both had brain injuries, but the hyperthermia helped keep Andrew’s brain from fatally swelling, crushing itself against his skull.

Now 12, Andrew is back at school as the star pitcher on the baseball team. He lost his mother, spent two weeks in a coma and has problems moving his left side because the right side of his brain was affected, but he’s about 90 percent back to normal.

Sean said he doesn’t know what he would have done without his tight-knit community, family and friends over the last two years.

According to AAA, 67 percent of all fatal accidents happen in rural areas, in part because people are less likely to wear their seat belts there. But people also die because it can take a long time for help to arrive after a crash.

Nelson said the “golden hour” refers to the need for trauma patients to receive care in the first 60 minutes to increase their chances of survival. But in rural areas like Bonners Ferry, medical care and fast treatment can be harder to come by because hospitals are farther away.

If you or a loved one were the victim of a car accident that was caused by negligence or some other form of reckless behavior, it is important that you contact a committed and dedicated personal injury lawyer to help you decide if you should file a lawsuit. A competent and reputable injury lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

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