Thanksgiving Eve a dangerous day on the roads, NHTSA reports

NOW: 1/3 of Thanksgiving 2016 travel fatalities involved drunk drivers

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Thanksgiving Eve is one of the most dangerous nights on the roads and made a major push Wednesday on social media.

NHTSA reported Wednesday that over the 2016 Thanksgiving holiday, 1 in 3 fatalities involved drunk drivers.

Thanksgiving Eve has become a popular night for students home from college to get together for high school reunions. 

Police in Maine report that many towns populations increase when people come home for the holidays.

"With that tends to be more people out socially and ultimately, unfortunately, some people are choosing to drive after they've had some drinks when they shouldn't," said Westbrook Police chief Janine Roberts. 

Roberts encouraged people to get a ride from designated driver, including a taxi or rideshare option. Failing to do so, she said, often results in arrests as police tend to increase patrols around holidays. She said that she has had to make the notification to family members that their loved ones were involved in a serious injury, or even fatal, crash.

"Having to approach a stranger or even if they knew somebody to tell them that tragic news is never anything an officer wants to do," said Roberts.

Fran Jacobson knows that pain from the other perspective. Her son, Stephen, was hit and killed by a drunk driver when he was just 20 years old. She said the driver left the scene of the crash. She said every holiday, there is an empty seat at the table.

"It's horrible. It really is. You never want to lose your son, lose your daughter, lose anyone. It's tough," said Jacobson.

She said her son Stephen was a star athlete who excelled at baseball. His father, Arthur, would go to the bleachers at a nearby baseball field where Stephen used to play and sit out there.

"That's how he worked his way through the whole thing. He would just sit out there and pretend he was playing ball," said Jacobson.

Jacobson urged people to never get behind the wheel and never the leave the scene of a crash.

"Just don't get behind the wheel. Call a cab. Call your parents. I'm sure your parents would love to come pick you up rather than find that you have had an accident or killed someone else," said Jacobson. 

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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