National Safety Council: 421 May Die on U.S. Roads in Coming Days

Non-profit organization estimates another 48,500 to be seriously injured in vehicle accidents during holiday period.

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The National Safety Council is projecting more than 400 fatalities and another 48,500 serious injuries on U.S. roads during the coming Thanksgiving holiday.

The deaths seen as likely represent a 7 percent hike over the average number, or 393, deaths that would typically occur during the timeframe, said the non-profit group, which strives to eliminate preventable deaths at work, home and on the road. 

"While many of us are putting together grocery lists and travel plans for Thanksgiving, we can't forget that long holiday weekends are particularly deadly on the roads," NSC President and CEO Deborah Hersman said in a statement Friday.

Historical trends show on average, more than a third of Thanksgiving Day holiday period fatalities involve alcohol-impaired drivers, the council said. And, given the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is known for a high volume of travel and alcohol consumption, the council urged drivers to be especially vigilant at the start of the holiday period.

The Thanksgiving Day holiday begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday, November 22, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, November 26, according to the NSC.

With preventable deaths at an all-time high, the council said it was calling on states to take actions to reduce residents' risks, particularly on the roads. The NSC said its suggestions include state sobriety checkpoints and the banning of open containers.

The Texas Department of Public Safety on Monday said its troopers and other Texas law enforcement agencies would patrol around-the-clock during the holiday weekend "looking for drunk drivers, speeders, seat belt violators, and other motorists who are endangering themselves or the public."

In California, the state highway patrol said it would be focused on enforcing seat-belt laws, while warning that the decision to not wear a seat belt can be fatal in a collision. Of the 27 people killed within its jurisdiction during the holiday period last year, 14 were not wearing a seat belt, the agency said.

But driving while intoxicated is not the only threat to drivers, the NSC added. Distracted driving is a hazard even in parking lots, which will be packed with Black Friday shoppers. A poll by the safety council conducted last year found two-thirds of drivers, or 86 percent, would make phone calls while driving through a parking lot and 56 percent would text.