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Thanksgiving, the deadliest U.S. holiday

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the deadliest holiday in the U.S. may be Thanksgiving. In 2012, for example, there were 764 crashes involving fatalities on Thanksgiving, compared to 654 on Christmas. In addition, that year saw 50,000 non-fatal crashes on Thanksgiving. Illinois residents may be wondering what can be done to prevent this surge in mortality rates.

The answer is, for the most part, simple. Safety precautions like wearing a seatbelt, planning ahead, and not rushing are essential first steps. Traffic and road conditions, along with the weather, should always be taken into consideration. Drivers should also check tire pressure and test their windshield wipers before the approach of winter storms.

Coronary events also explain the increase in death rates around Thanksgiving. Flu and cold weather are not the decisive factors, as heart attack rates increase even in warm areas like Los Angeles. Experts note that behavioral changes, along with the added emotional and psychological stress that the holidays bring for many, are a major factor.

For instance, there's a general increase in the consumption of alcohol and food, especially salty foods, during this time. Some may eat heavy meals and immediately exert themselves by playing sports and other games, while others forget to take heart medications during the holiday rush.

The NHTSA stated that 40 percent of the fatal crashes that occurred on Thanksgiving 2012 involved drunk drivers. If the victim of a car accident finds out that the other driver was intoxicated, he or she will have good grounds for an injury claim. Since drunk driving is a form of reckless driving, the victim could even sue for punitive damages, which is meant to punish rather than exact payment for medical bills and vehicle damages. A lawyer may be able to build a case with the help of investigators, then handle negotiations with insurers and attorneys.

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