Driving while impaired is an enormous problem in the United States, killing over 10,000 and costing $37 billion annually.
Drunk driving deaths and arrests always increase during the holidays because of a greater chance people are going to ingest large amounts of alcohol and try to drive somewhere. National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that Thanksgiving is one of the most dangerous holidays for drivers, because it averages over 450 fatal car accidents every year.
To put this problem into perspective, an average day in America has around 100 deaths from car accidents. Deaths from alcohol related accidents are a major cause for concern around holidays, and Thanksgiving is no different.
Is Thanksgiving the Most Dangerous Holiday of the Year for Drivers?
While alcohol is a major cause of car accidents during the holidays, and specifically Thanksgiving, it is not the only factor. This Thanksgiving, over 90 percent of Americans will reach their destination by using a car.
More drivers on the road, traveling over a great distance for a long time and poor weather are ideal conditions for a potentially deadly car accident. A majority of Americans traveling for Thanksgiving will drive for more than 50 miles.
Large amounts of carbohydrates combined with a time-consuming drive are known to induce sleepiness. Weather this time of year can cause icing and sleet on the roads. Additionally, ‘Black Wednesday’, also known as the day before Thanksgiving, has a large amount of drinking and driving accidents every year.
What Can You Do to Stay Safe?
Avoiding drinking and driving is easier than it sounds and several options are available to you.
- Planning ahead of time and figuring out how you are going to get to your destination will help you avoid making a decision while under the influence of a substance known to impair judgment.
- Have a designated driver, call a taxi or even get out your smartphone and use one of the several new apps that will send out a car to pick you up.
- Many cities will have reliable public transportation that should still be in service into the night, such as subways and buses.
Avoiding poor weather and other drivers can be a bit more difficult. Servicing your car regularly, including tire maintenance, can go a long way in ensuring that your car can handle poor weather. Avoiding driver fatigue is also important for staying safe. NHTSA studies have found that 15 minutes of rest and a caffeine dose of at least two cups of coffee can increase alertness and reduce drowsiness for up to an hour.
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Did You Know?: According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1,166,824 people were arrested for drunk driving in 2013.
More information on drunk driving can be found at the Centers for Disease Control website.
More information on Thanksgiving travel statistics can be found on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s website.