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Don't wreck your Thanksgiving with a car wreck

North Carolina residents who travel over the Thanksgiving holiday to be with family members and friends need to use caution as the week is notorious for fatal car accidents. According to a 2009 study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, Thanksgiving is one of four federal holidays that experiences a higher than average number of fatal crashes.

According to the director of the University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety, the reason for this could simply be that there are more cars on the roads. "This isn't really rocket science here: You have a lot of people on the roads over Thanksgiving, so the crashes are naturally going to get worse," the director told USA TODAY.

AAA predicts that there will be about 39.1 million drivers on the roads who are traveling more than 50 miles over the Thanksgiving holiday. While that seems like an awfully large number, it's just 0.6 percent higher than last year. A spokesman from AAA said even though the economy hasn't made a full recovery as of yet, people are still finding ways to get together for Thanksgiving.

According to AAA, 90 percent of holiday travelers will be getting to their destinations by automobile, which means drivers could probably use a quick refresher on road trip safety. Here are some of the leading causes of Thanksgiving week accidents and how to avoid them:

Driving on unfamiliar roads. Many accidents are caused because drivers are not familiar with the terrain. To stay safe, it's best to put all distractions away and stay fully concentrated on the road so that you have time to react to unforeseen dangers.

Driving when it's late and you're tired. Drowsy driving is another leading cause of Thanksgiving week car accidents. To avoid this you might have to cut the celebrating short to ensure that you don't get too tired on the way home.

Driving after drinking. It seems like holidays and drinking go hand-in-hand for many people, but one sure way to put yourself (and others) at risk is by drinking and driving. If you plan to drive home, don't plan to drink.

With these tips in mind, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Source: USA Today, "Thanksgiving week one of the deadliest on the highway," Larry Copeland, Nov. 18, 2012

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