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Long Thanksgiving Weekend is Deadly on the Roads

  • Plan for a Sober Ride 


    A cultural phenomenon during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is putting many lives at risk on the roads.

    The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, known as Blackout Wednesday, or Thanksgiving Eve, is known for its high volume of both travel and alcohol consumption. The National Safety Council is warning drivers to be particularly vigilant at the start of the holiday period – and throughout the four-day weekend.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also launched its Make it to the Table campaign, encouraging everyone to share information via social media on the importance of driving sober. 

    NSC estimates more than 400 people may lose their lives and another 48,500 may be seriously injured in car crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period. The estimate is 7% higher than the average number of deaths for that weekend. Historical trends show that, on average, more than one-third of Thanksgiving holiday period fatalities involve alcohol-impaired drivers.

    Impairment Begins With the First Drink


    In the 1980s, the United States saw a significant reduction in alcohol-involved crashes. This was due to such strategies as lowering the legal driving limit to 0.08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC), increasing the minimum legal drinking age to 21 and instituting educational campaigns about the dangers of drinking and driving.

    However, for 20 years, drivers with alcohol concentrations at or above 0.08 have remained involved in one-third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. That's about 10,000 lives lost every year.

    To reduce this toll, the National Safety Council supports:

    • A national campaign educating Americans on impairment beginning with the first drink
    • Efforts by states to lower the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration in drivers

    The legal alcohol concentration limit in all states is 0.08. Research shows that for the majority of drivers, driving performance has deteriorated significantly at this level.

    However, the current U.S. culture regarding driving and alcohol is not supportive of lowering driving limits for all adult drivers. And despite drivers' views of drinking and driving as a very serious threat, more than one in eight drivers admit to driving in the past year when they thought they were close to or over the legal limit.

    NSC knows more must be done to educate our fellow citizens about alcohol impairment, and we believe change can happen as people know more. A strategy grounded in human behavior theory is needed to change those beliefs and ultimately influence widespread change.

    Read the NSC Low Alcohol Concentration National Culture Change policy statement. It includes data, scientific evidence of impairment at low levels, and background.

NSC Low BAC, National Culture Change Policy

Lowering the national blood alcohol concentration limit could save 538 lives per year.

Read the Policy

Police Reports Don't List Real Reasons for Crashes

Incomplete data is hurting efforts to save lives.

Read the Report

National Safety Council Mission

The National Safety Council eliminates preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.

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