Drinking and driving is a dangerous combination that can have long-lasting and devastating consequences. Every day, people make the decision to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, and it can have tragic consequences. The most obvious danger of drinking and driving is the risk of being involved in a fatal accident. Alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time, making it much harder for a driver to stay in control of their vehicle. This increases the risk of an accident, as well as the severity of the injuries suffered in an accident. Unfortunately, holidays increase the risk of being involved in an alcohol related automobile accident. You may have noticed messages like Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and If You Feel Different, You Drive Different – Drive High Get a DUI flashing above you while driving on the freeway. These are campaigns put together by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and local law enforcement to spread awareness to the increased number of accidents involving an impaired driver that typically occur during the Christmas and New Year holiday periods.
According to the NHTSA, impaired driving is one of the leading causes of fatal crashes on our nation’s roads. It’s responsible for more than 10,000 deaths every year. In 2019, an estimated 13 percent of all fatal pedestrian crashes involved an impaired driver. During the holidays more people are on the roads than there typically would be, traveling to visit their family and friends. Due to this increase in traffic the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that around 800 people may be involved in a fatal crash accident on U.S. roads this Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods because of someone driving under the influence.
Impaired driving is a leading cause of traffic fatalities, killing 32 people a day in the United States—which is about 1 person every 45 minutes and more than 11,500 people per year according to the NHTSA. Alcohol reduces the function of the brain, impairs thinking, the ability to reason, as well as muscle coordination, which are all essential to operating a vehicle safely. While it may be legal to operate a vehicle when your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is under 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter (g/dL), any amount of alcohol consumption increases the risk of crashing. Figuring out if you are legally impaired largely depends on gender and weight, but generally most people will be unable to legally operate a vehicle after 2-3 standard-pour drinks. In 2019 alcohol-impaired fatalities represented 28 percent of the total traffic fatalities nationwide. During the 2019 Christmas Day holiday period, the number of fatalities rose to 38 percent.
Because impaired drivers are less likely to take evasive actions to prevent a crash than their sober counterparts combined with the unsafe driving practices they typically engage in, a victim’s injuries tend to be much more serious when they are not fatal. For every fatality caused by an impaired driver, there are 114 injuries that require medical treatment. It is estimated that 45,500 nonfatal medically consulted injuries will be a result of crashes during the 2022 holiday period. These injuries can range from soft tissue and limb injuries all the way to traumatic brain injuries.
Seat Belts Save Lives
Studies have found that seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45 percent, drastically reduce the risk of serious injury by 50 percent, and save thousands of lives each year. Not properly wearing a seat belt increases the risk of being ejected from the vehicle by 30 percent. While it is estimated that 90.4 percent of people use their seat belts, over 51 percent of people who were killed in 2020 were unrestrained.
How to Stay Safe Driving During the Holidays
Have a plan
Before the drinking starts, designate someone to be the sober driver or park somewhere you can come back in the morning to get the car. Planning ahead is a great way to ensure that everyone gets home safely.
Sometimes things happen and the person who was supposed to be the designated driver becomes impaired, be responsible and do not try to drive anyway. Call an Uber or Lyft, you have a much better chance of getting everyone home safely if you do not get behind the wheel.
If you’re hosting a gathering, you should make sure that everyone has a sober ride home and not let anyone who is impaired get behind the wheel.
- Just because you’re sober doesn’t mean that everyone else is. When you’re driving, be alert of the cars around you and be extra cautious of people driving erratically.
A seat belt can be the difference between a minor injury and death. Properly wear your seat belt to minimize the severity of your injuries if you are hit by a drunk driver.
Report Drunk Drivers
If you see someone who may be driving under the influence it is important to not engage the driver or try to pass them. Dial 911 to report them and let the police handle the situation.
Have You Been Injured By A Drunk Driver?