December is an especially dangerous time to be driving on the roads because of the increased risk of drunk driving accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that during the 31 days of December 2016, 781 people died in drunk driving accidents in this country.
It is expected that there will be an even greater number of tragic drunk driving fatalities this year. Obviously, drunk driving accidents are both heartbreaking and infuriating because they are entirely preventable.
“December is a busy time on our nation’s roads and we want people to travel safely. We’re urging everyone to drive sober and plan a safe ride home before drinking at holiday celebrations and gatherings.”
Government agencies, safety advocates, and others who are concerned about the danger of DUI deaths this year are working hard to boost public awareness and to keep the number of inebriated drivers on the roads to a minimum.
Annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign
One of the ways to fight against drunk driving used by the government agencies is the annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign devised by NHTSA.
As part of “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” you may see advertisements on television or in social media promotions. They will contain information about the realities of drunk driving, educating people on how high the risk is right now.
This year, NHTSA offers a virtual reality web experience that takes viewers into the scene of a drunk driving crash. It’s entitled “No Big Deal,” and allows the viewer to be “virtually transported” to the scene of a drunk driving crash and interact with victims, police, and EMTs.
The more that people understand the risks of drunk driving, the more likely they will take steps to keep themselves, or others at the party or family gathering, from getting behind the wheel if they may be under the influence. That’s the hope, anyway.
Greatest Risk is Next Week: Between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day
Research confirms that the highest risk of a fatal December drunk driving accident is during the time between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.
On average, 300 people will be killed by a drunk driver between December 24th and the start of the New Year. And most of these deaths will be caused by drunk drivers who have driven drunk before, and have arrests or convictions for driving under the influence before the fatal crash.
This means that even with warnings and awareness, we know there will be drivers who will ignore or discount the risk of driving drunk. Drivers who know better will still be on the roads, driving under the influence, this month.
It’s maddening to know that someone who has been arrested or convicted of a DUI will still drive drunk, but statistics reveal this is true.
Law Enforcement Participating in Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign
Of course, it is illegal to drive drunk in Indiana and Illinois. Still, these criminal laws will not stop drivers from taking the wheel and operating a car, truck, or SUV even though they are too drunk to drive.
Some drivers will know they are drunk. Others may think they are safe to drive, even though they are legally drunk drivers. They are fatal accidents just waiting to happen.
As a result, local police, sheriff’s departments, and state troopers are taking part in the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign” by targeting the arrest of drunk drivers this month.
This campaign is encouraged by the Transportation Department. From Heidi King, NHTSA Deputy Administrator:
“Our law enforcement partners across the country will be on patrol to help protect the public from drunk drivers.”
It’s also something that our law enforcement feels is imperative. In fact, this is part of an ongoing effort here in Indiana and Illinois to combat drunk driving during all the major holidays. For instance, the Indiana State Police were patrolling for DUI offenders last March, when there was a concern over drunk driving on St. Patrick’s Day.
Police Patrolling to Arrest Drivers Driving Under the Influence
Given the known danger of drinking and driving during the month of December, there will be a great effort in both Indiana and Illinois to try and get drunk drivers off our roads before they can cause a fatal crash. It’s happening all over.
These are often local programs, like the one mounted by the Orland Park Police Department in Illinois. All over both states, police officers have increased their patrols in order to find and pull over anyone driving under the influence.
“The village’s police department will increase their patrol units to monitor for alcohol and drug-impaired drivers now until the New Year. The goal is always to keep drivers and passengers safe, and to ensure all drivers are wearing safety belts.”
“Now through New Year’s Day, motorists will notice increased enforcement watching closely for anyone who is driving impaired. It is vital that we keep our travelers safe, not just at the holidays, but every day. That’s why we’ll arrest anyone who chooses to drive impaired by alcohol or drugs.”
We should expect to see more patrol cars on the roads, and more traffic stops. Drunk drivers are a high priority for the police right now. Arrests will be made, and hopefully, some deaths and fatal crashes will be avoided.
SaferRide: the Drunk Driving App
What can you do if you or a loved one has had a bit too much of a festive beverage and may have a blood alcohol content that exceeds the legal limit of .08 for Indiana and Illinois?
You can call a cab or get a ride, of course. You can also prepare in advance by downloading the NHTSA SaferRide app on your phone (as well as the phones of your loved ones, friends, and family). Get the SaferRide App here for Android phones and here for Apple devices.
It’s The Holidays: Beware of Drivers Who Drink and Drive
We know that drunk driving fatalities are increasing in the United States, and that the following 10 days to two weeks is very dangerous for all of us driving the roads of Indiana and Illinois.
Sadly, there will be preventable fatal motor vehicle accidents in our part of the country caused by a drunk driver this month. Victims of these drunk driving accidents will have legal rights to seek justice in the aftermath of these tragedies. Wrongful death claims as well as accident claims for damages including long-term medical care and lost future earnings are available under the personal injury laws of Indiana and Illinois.
Drivers may be liable as well as those who allowed them to take the wheel (dram shop, etc.). For more information, read:
- Drunk Driving Accidents in Indiana and Illinois: Danger of a Fatal DUI Crash
- Liable for Drunk Driving Accidents in Indiana and Illinois: Social Party Hosts, Bars, Restaurants
- Drunk Driving Accident: Who’s Legally Liable? Answer is Different for Indiana and Illinois.
Remember that every drunk driving fatal crash is a preventable accident. Let’s be careful out there!