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11/21/2012 - Impaired driving frequency jumps during Thanksgiving holiday

Drunk driving often occurs around Thanksgiving nationwide.

New statistics suggest that drunk driving may be as common over Thanksgiving as it is for New Year's.

With auto insurance statistics indicating as many as 43 million people will hit the roads this holiday, it's clear that traveling is as associated with Thanksgiving as turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. But if recent trends continue, traffic safety officials fear that drunk driving may be on its way to becoming a trend during the period as well.

As noted by the nonprofit Mothers Against Drunk Driving and based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, nearly 175 people in 2010 died over the extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2010 due to intoxicated driving. In fact, 40% of the highways deaths that occurred at that time stemmed from drunk driving.

In comparison to other holidays that often bring alcoholic drinking, there were 96 roadway fatalities linked to drunk driving during Christmas of 2010 and 143 deaths during the days immediately leading up to and following New Year's.

Jan Withers, national president of MADD, indicated that this comes as sobering news and may be somewhat surprising.

"These numbers are very concerning to MADD because the number of people killed in drunk driving crashes over Thanksgiving is up, along with the percentage of highway deaths caused by drunk driving during the holiday period," said Withers. "Drunk driving is a complex problem, but the solution is simple: plan ahead for a sober designated driver if you're going to drink alcohol."

It's estimated that approximately 90% of the Thanksgiving trips that are made each year are in cars, serving as another reason why safety officials urge motorists to drive sober this Thanksgiving holiday.

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