Police consider the day before Thanksgiving, “Black Wednesday,’’ the official start of “DUI Season,’’ which runs through the New Year’s holiday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that a typical day in the United States sees approximately 36 deaths occur due to driving under the influence. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, that average increases to 45.
Officials who investigate and track traffic deaths agree that several factors are responsible for the increase in these tragedies, the largest being that many people celebrate the holidays with alcohol. Although you may know how many beers you can drink before becoming too impaired to drive, you might not be so familiar with the alcohol contents of seasonal drinks. Beverages like spiked eggnog and mulled wine can pose a guessing game when it comes to impairment, especially behind the wheel.
Hand Over Those Keys
There is also an increased risk of accidents because so many people travel for the holidays, heightening traffic tensions. Moreover, winter weather can create less-than-perfect road conditions.
The NHTSA’s suggestions for this season include:
- Deciding on a designated driver before attending holiday parties.
- Handing your keys to the host before taking your first drink.
- Buckling up - many DUI deaths occur because drivers and passengers are not wearing seat belts.
- Driving defensively.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) adds these sober tips, which might help you spot those potentially under the influence while driving.
Beware of drivers who:
- Run red lights, stop at green lights, or ignore traffic signals.
- Signal inconsistently or improperly.
- Have difficulty staying in a lane, or are weaving within a lane.
- Brake excessively, or even make random stops while in the travel lane.
- Change speeds constantly, without cause and travel ten miles or more below the speed limit.
- Follow too closely.
MAAD also recommends never trying to follow, stop or confront a drunk driver. If you suspect that another driver is intoxicated, get out of the way immediately. Find a safe location to stop and call 911 with as much of the car’s information as you can remember. Your actions could save a life and prevent holiday joy from being shattered.
Drunk driving accidents are serious. So are we at Dean Waite and Associates LLC. If you have injuries as a result of someone driving under the influence, we are available to help.