Dr. Allen Parrish, professor of computer science at the University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety, and colleagues analyzed Alabama and national fatal crash data.
The researchers used traffic data from the state of Alabama and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 2005 to 2010.
The researchers compared Thanksgiving week with every other week of the year and looked at every attribute in the crash records.
The study found there was an average 748 fatalities per week during the six-year study, yet Thanksgiving week averaged 50 more fatalities, indicating this was a relatively more dangerous time to be on U.S. roads. In Alabama, about 16 fatal crashes occurred in an average week in 2011, but during Thanksgiving there were 17 fatal crashes, the study said.
The study also found more parties, more vehicles on the road at night, more drivers on less-familiar roads, more tired drivers behind the wheel and more distracted drivers contributed to the crashes.
"With substantially increased traffic volume over a short period, this combination is a recipe for potential disaster," Parrish said in a statement.