Thanksgiving will be here in a matter of days (15, to be exact) and once again, our part of the country is in the midst of another great Holiday Season. Families will be traveling the roads to visit; we’ll be driving around taking the kids places; and we’ve got all that shopping to do!
And, of course, there are all the parties. Office parties, charity galas, cocktail gatherings, and eventually, we’ll be celebrating at one of the many fun local New Year’s Eve events.
Drunk Driving Accident Dangers Over the Holiday Season
Which means, from a law enforcement and personal injury lawyer point of view, we’re smack dab in the middle of one of the most dangerous times of year. Research teaches us that this time of year, Hoosiers and Illinoians (or Illini, if you prefer) face a very real danger of being involved in a drunk driving accident.
Consider the following information from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA); Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD):
Indiana Drunk Driving Facts
1. Indiana exceeds the national average in alcohol-involved deaths (drunk driver crash).
2. In 2013, the largest proportion of Indiana’s alcohol-impaired collisions occurred in urban places (64 percent).
3. In the past year, drunk driving fatalities (.08 BAC or higher) represented 25.3% of all total traffic deaths in the State of Indiana.
4. There were 1.6% of adults questioned who told the CDC that they had driven drunk within the past 30 days.
5. The drunk driving death rate for Hoosiers was 3.6 in 2012.
Illinois Drunk Driving Facts
1. Illinois is lower than the national average in alcohol-related deaths (drunk driver crash).
2. 3866 people were killed in a drunk driving accident in Illinois between 2003 and 2012.
3. In the past year, drunk driving fatalities (.08 BAC or higher) represented 32.5% of all total traffic deaths in the State of Illinois.
4. There were 2.2% of adults questioned in Illinois who told the CDC that they had driven drunk within the past 30 days.
5. The drunk driving death rate for Illinois was 2.5 in 2012.
According to the CDC, one person dies in a drunk driving accident every 51 minutes in this country. That’s on a yearly average; however, the risk of being on the road with someone who is under the influence of alcohol is much higher right now, two weeks before Thanksgiving, and the risk will remain high and become even more dangerous as we move through to New Year’s Eve, that most notorious of drunk driving dates.
Why the Holidays Are So Dangerous for Drunk Driving Accidents
Statistics show that December is a very dangerous month for drunk driving fatal accidents. In December 2013, for example, 733 people died in drunk driving crashes. It is known that drunk-driving fatalities happen around the holidays. Crash statistics for fatal accidents repeatedly show December as being at high risk for crashes involving drivers with a high BAC (blood alcohol content).
- Sometimes people who ordinarily don’t drink or only drink a single beer or glass of wine may feel free to imbibe more of their “holiday cheer” than they would otherwise.
- For others more accustomed to alcohol, the holiday season translates into a reason to drink even more, or more often.
- Students out of school may be celebrating with alcohol, too, and combine their inexperience with drinking with their inexperience with driving a vehicle. (Teenage drivers are at the highest risk of dying in a drunk driving crash. In 2013, 19% of all teen drivers involved in a fatal car accident had been drinking alcohol before the crash.)
As for when most of these accidents happen, the fatal drunk driving accidents are more prone to occur at night and on weekends. It’s four times more dangerous to be on the roads at night when you’re considering drunk driving (35% risk of drunk driving crash compared to daytime’s 9%). Thirty percent (30%) of the drivers in a fatal crash on a weekend are alcohol-impaired.
Ways to Stay Safe from Drunk Drivers
How can you protect yourself and your loved ones from drunk driving crashes? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Have a designated driver for any event (party, family gathering, etc.) where you know alcohol will be served.
2. Try and avoid streets and roadways where you can expect drunk drivers to be traveling (take the longer route that avoids the popular nightclub or concert event).
3. Know what BAC means and how even a single drink can spike your blood alcohol count over the legal limit. Not all drunk drivers “feel drunk.”
4. If you think you may be alcohol-impaired, call a cab or get a ride home with a friend. Don’t punish a teen who is smart enough to call home for a ride from a party!
5. Keep friends and family from driving drunk: take their keys and don’t let them drive.
MADD’s Day of Remembrance: December 3, 2015
Here in Indiana and Illinois, as well as the rest of the country, MADD branches will be honoring those killed, injured or emotionally devastated by drunk drivers (as well as victims of drugged driving and underage drinking) in a first ever National Day of Remembrance.
MADD will be hosting things like candlelight vigils, luncheons, and more to spotlight the suffering that drunk driving causes to all its victims and to provide support for drunk driving victims and their loved ones as they grieve their losses.
This also includes a social media campaign where victims of drunk driving crashes are invited to share an image of their loved one with the hashtag “#MADDremembers” on Twitter, Facebook, etc. There is also a special page dedicated to honor lost loved ones on the National Day of Rememberance at the MADD website (go to madd.org/placesetting to include your tribute).
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Begins December 16
From December 16, 2015, to January 1, 2016, NHTSA will be overseeing the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. Law enforcement will be focused upon locating and arresting drunk drivers on the roads of Indiana and Illinois. Expect to see lots of police activity stopping cars and checking drivers for driving drunk — especially after sunset and all day on the weekends.
Please stay vigilant against the danger of a serious car crash because of a drunk driver this season!
Be careful out there!