The holidays are a time for celebration, and for many, this includes increased amounts of alcohol consumption. This increase in drinking is often accompanied by driving under the influence, according to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Holiday drinking is unofficially kicked off by what some call "Blackout Wednesday," the evening prior to Thanksgiving, and extends through New Year's Day. During this period of time, 40% of highway traffic deaths are the result of drunk driving, compared to 28% the rest of the year.
New Year's Eve sees the largest spike in deaths during the holidays, with 58% of deaths involving alcohol. This spike can be attributed to a number of factors, such traditions involving drinking, college students returning home, and increased levels of travel to visit friends and family. Massachusetts and Connecticut are home to thousands of college students and families driving across each state, creating a heightened need for awareness of the issue. Across the nation in 2016, over 40 million people took a road trip for Thanksgiving, and that number increased to 103 million between December 23rd and January 3rd.
How to help keep the roads safe
The holidays pose an extra challenge to those considered a high risk for drunk driving. Whether they are young adults with a habit of binge drinking or repeat offenders, it is important that a plan is put in place to prevent anyone from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated after the holiday celebration. The social atmosphere creates a sense of pressure to participate in group drinking, as 51% of drunk drivers say they drink more during this time and 50% of people overall say alcohol is involved in their family's celebration, according to a study conducted by Scram Systems. For high-risk individuals, it is important to have a plan in place to help keep the roads safe during the holidays. Consider the following safety precautions:
- Stick to your preferred non-alcoholic beverage, whether it's a soda, water, or juice. Have it on hand and don't be afraid to ask for it.
- Create new sober traditions. Participating in activities that used to involve drinking can result in the desire to have a drink.
- If drinking has been a method to cope with holiday stress, find an alternative. Discuss your habit with someone you trust, find time to exercise, or take a moment to reflect on yourself.
- Be the designated driver and embrace the role. This will give you the goal to stay sober and provide that extra motivation.
- Plan ahead. If you think you're going to have a few drinks, know who the designated driver is. Alternatively, have the local cab company as a contact or download a ride-sharing app, such as Uber or Lyft.
It is important to do your part to keep the roads safe this holiday season to ensure everyone can continue to celebrate in the coming years. If you or a loved one is the victim of drunk driving, you have legal rights that must be protected. Contact an auto accident lawyer today to ensure those rights are upheld.