Worst Time to Travel During Thanksgiving

The winter holidays are the year’s travel peaks. Every year, millions of people travel to make it to their holiday destinations. Unfortunately, this influx of travelers can make for busy roads and a much higher risk of accidents. The nature of the holidays, including Thanksgiving, can also result in more drunk and drowsy drivers on the roads. If you have to travel this Thanksgiving, plan your route ahead of time. If possible, avoid being on the road on what are statistically the deadliest days to drive.

The Day and Night Before Thanksgiving

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the worst time to travel according to crash statistics. Most people are doing the same thing, leading to terrible traffic, road congestion and road-rage drivers. It also has a reputation as ‘Drinksgiving’ or ‘Blackout Wednesday.’ It is a popular day and night for binge drinking, often called the biggest day of the year for bars. Most people have the next day off, so they drink the night before to celebrate the holiday. This can lead to a higher than normal number of drunk drivers on the road the night before Thanksgiving. Look for signs of drunk driving to help avoid an accident.

  • Drifting across lane lines
  • Drifting off the road
  • Darting in and out of traffic
  • Stopping and starting abruptly
  • Taking too long at lights or stop signs
  • Running red lights
  • Speeding or racing
  • Dozing off behind the wheel
  • Tailgating

During the Thanksgiving holiday period – the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after – 35% of traffic fatalities involve drunk drivers. This is higher than the national annual average of 29%. More fatal drunk driving accidents occur the day before Thanksgiving than on New Year’s Eve, according to crash data. The best way to stay safe during this holiday is to avoid driving the night before Thanksgiving entirely. Leave the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving Eve, if possible. If you must travel the Wednesday before, studies show the best time to be on the road is at 4:00 a.m.

The Sunday After Thanksgiving

The runner-up for the worst time to travel at Thanksgiving is the Sunday after the holiday. This is the most common day for people to drive back from their holiday destinations, leading to an immense amount of traffic around the country, similar to the day before Thanksgiving. The risk of encountering a drunk driver, however, is lower. Statistically, the worst time to be on the road while heading home from Thanksgiving is the following Sunday from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. The best time to leave is on Friday at 4:00 a.m.

Black Friday

You do not want to be on the road during the peak of Black Friday shopping if you can help it. Thousands of shoppers in your region could lead to blocked roads and hours of traffic congestion on the highways. If you wish to shop on Black Friday, consider doing so online before you head out into what could be chaos on the roads. If you need to travel home on Black Friday, leave as early as possible. Although Black Friday traffic is historically not as bad as Thanksgiving Eve or the Sunday after, it could still significantly delay your ride home.

Thanksgiving Day, Between Sunset and Sunrise

Another potentially dangerous time to be on the road for the Thanksgiving holiday is after sunset on the day of. Although the bulk of binge drinking traditionally occurs the Wednesday before, many people also partake in alcoholic beverages at their Thanksgiving events. They may then attempt to drive home from the host’s location while under the influence of alcohol.

Try to stay off the roads the night of Thanksgiving to avoid drunk drivers. Between sunset and sunrise is the deadliest time for drunk driving accidents on any given night. If you notice a driver that appears intoxicated, call the police and give them the driver’s plate numbers. Do not drive too closely to the driver. Never get on the road if you have been drinking alcohol, even if you only had one drink.