Thanksgiving is the Deadliest Holiday on U.S. Roads

More than 800 Americans died in alcohol-impaired crashes during the days surrounding Thanksgiving over the past four years.

Bernd Wüstneck/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

With the the upcoming holiday already expected to have more Americans traveling than in a dozen years, federal transportation officials are warning against the deadly mix of drinking and driving.

Urging Americans to “Make It to the Table: Don’t Drink and Drive this Thanksgiving Eve," the U.S. Department of Transportation says the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is now a big night for bars and an evening associated with drinking

From 2012 to 2016, more than 800 people died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes during the Thanksgiving period—6 p.m. Wednesday to 5:59 a.m. Monday—making it the deadliest holiday on U.S. roads, the agency said in a release.

The grim statistics from the federal agency come as AAA forecasts that nearly 51 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home this Thanksgiving, up 3.3 percent from last year, as 1.6 million more Americans take to the nation's roads, skies, rails and waterways than in 2016.

The bulk of those traveling does so by taking to the road, with AAA projecting that almost 90 percent of travelers, or 45.5 million, are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, up 3.2 percent from last year. 

Starting Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and its partners will run a blitz social media campaign to remind Americans on the dangers of drinking and driving and urging travelers to plan ahead by designating a driver who will abstain for a sober road home.

The educational campaign will also pitch the virtues of using public transportation, a taxi, a ride-hailing service or a sober ride program run in many communities. 

The agency is also asking Americans to wear seat belts and to contact local law enforcement if they spot a drunk driver on the road.