The Thanksgiving weekend is the most dangerous holiday travel time in Iowa, according to records from the Iowa Department of Transportation. Last year, nine people died in traffic crashes and in 2007 there were 16 fatalities.

Scott Falb, with the D.O.T.’s Office of Driver Services, says Thanksgiving is always a four day weekend so people are often traveling further than they would during a shorter holiday period. “You couple that with the fact that the end of November is always iffy as far as the weather goes and this weekend is a perfect example where we have rain possibly turning into snow,” Falb said.

The statewide forecast from the National Weather Service calls for areas of rain and snow this evening with lows between 20 and 35 degrees. Over the past decade, roughly one-third of the fatal crashes over the Thanksgiving holiday have involved a drunk driver.

“When we look at our year-end total stats for alcohol, it’s somewhere between one-fifth and one-quarter of our fatalities. So, alcohol is a higher factor in traffic crashes over Thanksgiving than it is in the year as a whole,” Falb said. The Iowa D.O.T is encouraging motorists to take the following steps to ensure safer travel; do not drink and drive, make sure that everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seat belt, do not follow too closely behind another vehicle, obey posted speed limits and slow down if your vision is limited by heavy rain, fog or snow, plan your trip and keep weather-related conditions in mind.