The winter holidays are right around the corner! From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, we all look forward to enjoying the holiday hustle and bustle, spending more time with friends and family and attending holiday parties. Amidst all these festivities, however, there is a dark side. During the holidays there is a marked increase in alcohol-related car wrecks.
The statistics speak for themselves. Drunk driving is responsible for 40% of car collision deaths over the holiday season. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on average, there are 36 fatalities per day from alcohol-related car wrecks. During the three-day Christmas holiday, however, there is an average of 45 per day and 54 per day over the New Year’s holiday.
Experts contend that this spike in wrecks is due to several factors. During the holidays, there is both an increase in holiday travel and an increase in the consumption of alcohol. It is estimated that during Thanksgiving there are an estimated 43.5 million people on the road, and between Christmas and New Year’s Day, there are 103 million people on the road.
Let’s face it, it is a festive time of year. People are traveling to see their families and friends and attending parties and other holiday events. Interestingly, 51% of drunk drivers said that they drank more during the holiday season than they did the rest of the year.
So, the potential danger is there. Here are a few tips to keep you and your family safe during the holidays:
Being mindful of the potential danger of drinking and driving is half the battle. It is important to put a plan in place ahead of time, so you don’t catch yourself on the road having had one too many.
Choose a Designated Driver
This is not a new idea, but it is an effective one. If alcohol will be served at an event, make an agreement ahead of time to act as the designated driver and not drink or find someone else who will do so. In the alternative, bring extra money for a cab, or be sure you have your Uber account ready to use.
Hosting a Party
If you are hosting a party, it is important that you are sensitive to this issue. Be sure to serve plenty of food and offer non-alcoholic alternatives. Take your guests keys at the door or arrange for their transportation home.
Don’t Add to the Problem on the Road
There are other strategies that you can use to stay safe during holiday driving. It can be a good idea to leave a party early and avoid being out on the road late at night. Drunk driving accidents tend to happen later in the evening, where people have been drinking for many hours.
Keep a Safe Distance
If you are driving and notice a car driving erratically, slowing down and speeding up, or swerving in between lanes, assume they may have been drinking. Put a safe distance between you and the other car and call 911 to report them. Prepare to give the operator your location and if possible the other car’s driver’s license number.