Driving During the Holidays Could be Deadly
The holiday season is supposed to be filled with joy, but for many, this Thanksgiving through New Year’s weekend will be filled with tears and grief. Starting the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at 6 p.m. through the following Monday at 6 a.m. is considered the deadliest time to be on U.S. roadways. With a forecasted 51 million Americans expected to drive at least 50 miles this year, it’s more important than ever to drive cautiously and avoid drinking and driving.
Thanksgiving Eve has been dubbed “Black Wednesday” because it’s reported to be the busiest night of the year for bars. Most travelers want to make it home or to their friend or family member’s house the day before Thanksgiving, which means reunions and celebrations typically start Wednesday and often go through Sunday night. This long weekend is supposed to be fun and care-free, which is why the U.S. Department of Transportation runs an annual campaign for “Make it to the Table: Don’t Drink and Drive this Thanksgiving Eve.”
If you notice another driver on the road swaying between lanes or acting strangely, please contact law enforcement as soon as possible, and if you are injured in a car accident, contact an injury attorney for help filing your claim and seeking compensation.
Winter Holiday Auto Accidents by the Numbers
Every U.S. driver knows it’s illegal and unethical to drive while intoxicated or otherwise under the influence, which includes having “just one or two.” These number of fatalities and other statistics show just how much drinking and driving affects Americans every year:
· 800 people were killed in alcohol-related car crashes between 6 p.m. Wednesday and 6 a.m. Monday from 2012–2016, which is more than any other holiday.
· Thanksgiving was the deadliest holiday in 2012 with 416 deaths caused by auto accidents.
· 60% of those who died in 2012 were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, and 42% involved driving impaired.
· 1.6 million more people are traveling for the holidays in 2018 than in 2016, totaling an estimated 51 million according to AAA.
· AAA projects 90% of holiday travel will be done by motor vehicle, which comes out to 45.5 million people driving and riding in cars on the road this Thanksgiving.
· DUI arrests are highest between Thanksgiving and the end of New Year’s weekend.
· 40% of vehicle-related deaths during Christmas and New Year’s weekend are caused by drunk driving according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
· 2,597 people were killed in motor vehicle-related accidents in December 2010 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
How to Travel Safely this Holiday Season
Thanksgiving is just the start of the holiday travel season, but it is still the busiest weekend to travel year-round. It’s important to remember auto accidents can be caused by much more than drunk driving. Driving distractions, speeding, and other habits increase your likelihood of being in a car accident as well.
Don’t Rush or Be Reckless: Whether you’re late for your last day of work before the holiday break or are trying to make it home for Thanksgiving dinner, remember it’s better to drive the speed limit and make it to your destination safely than the alternative. Drive carefully and follow all construction zone instructions and traffic laws to make sure you make it home.
Buckle Up: This applies to all modes of transportation including buses, trains, and planes. If there’s a seatbelt, you should be wearing it.
Plan Ahead: If you plan on drinking at a restaurant, bar, or a friend or family member’s house, arrange transportation. That can involve a Designated Driver who will stay sober, using local transit, hailing a cab, or using Uber or Lyft to keep yourself and others on the road safe. Some communities offer sober ride programs. When you drive drunk, you put everyone at risk — Passengers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and everyone in the vehicles around you.
Place Your Phone Out of Reach: Texting and driving is dangerous and deadly. Put your phone in the back seat or glove compartment. If you’re using your smartphone for GPS, set it up before you leave your driveway. That text or Facebook notification can wait, and even if a loved one is trying to get ahold of you, they’ll understand that your safety while driving should always come first. If it seems like an urgent call or notification, pull over, put the car in park, and check it then.
Get Enough Rest: Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as texting or drinking and getting behind the wheel. Make sure you get enough rest before traveling for the holidays, and if you find yourself getting sleepy, pull off of the road before it’s too late.
Seat Kids Under 13 in the Back Seat: It’s recommended for any child under 13 to sit in the back seat of the car, with a seat belt on or in a secured car seat.
Hickey Law Firm in Miami hopes you thoroughly enjoy the holiday season and remember we’re here to help in the event of a severe or fatal car crash.