The holidays are a time of great celebration with those closest to us, and most of us look forward to this time of year. But in the midst of these festivities, there is a lot more alcohol consumption, and more drivers out on the roadways who have had too much to drink.
The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is the most heavily traveled time of the year. According to AAA, an estimated 96.8 million Americans travel during this season to visit loved ones, and most of them travel by car.
Sadly, this is also the deadliest time of year for auto accidents, with an average of around 900 DUI-related fatalities annually (according to the NHTSA). And just in the week between Christmas and New Year’s alone, there are approximately 300 traffic fatalities that involve a drunk driver.
Not surprisingly, drunk driving arrests increase greatly this time of year as well. Arrests on Thanksgiving Day are 31% higher than average, on Christmas Eve, they are 50% higher, and on New Year’s Eve, they are 106% higher.
Keeping You and Your Family Safe During the Holidays
With so many more people traveling during the holiday season and the higher number of intoxicated drivers on the roads, it is important for all of us to be aware of the dangers and take steps to stay safe:
Avoid Travel at Certain Times
It is best to plan ahead when you travel in order to avoid being on the road when there are more drunk drivers out there. The worst time to be driving is after dark as 30% of auto accident fatalities at night involve an intoxicated driver, as opposed to just 9% of accidents during daylight hours. And as we discussed earlier, certain nights like Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are especially bad. If at all possible, try to do most of your driving during the day.
Recognize the Signs of a Drunk Driver
Sometimes, the need to drive at night is unavoidable, but even if you only drive during the day, there is still a chance that there will be intoxicated drivers on the roads. Keep a close eye out for signs of drunk driving and keep a safe distance from vehicles that exhibit these signs. These may include:
- Straddling over the center line and/or weaving back and forth between lanes;
- Speeding excessively or driving too slowly;
- Hitting the brakes or accelerating erratically without cause;
- Running stop signs and red lights;
- Following other cars too closely/tailgating;
- Making sharp, dangerous, and/or illegal turns;
- Making dangerous passing maneuvers;
- Weaving off to the side of the road.
If you suspect that you are driving near a drunk driver, contact the police and report your suspicions. Give a description of the vehicle, the location where you saw it, and their license plate number if possible.
Have a Plan to Get Home Safely
If you plan to be out at a restaurant, bar, or holiday party where you will be drinking, be proactive and make sure you do not end up in a situation where you drive after having too much to drink. The best plan is to have a designated driver who will stay sober and not have anything to drink. If there is no designated driver, plan to call a cab or ride share service like Uber or Lyft. If your function is a significant distance from home, you may want to consider reserving a room close by where you can spend the night and not have to worry about getting home until morning.
Make Sure your Teens Stay Safe
You may not be the only one who is planning to drink during the holidays. As much as we would like to believe otherwise, many teens also go to parties where alcoholic beverages are consumed. Take the time to find out in detail where your teens are going when they go out while on holiday vacation. Find out who they are going to be with, and most importantly, how they plan to get home safely if they have had too much to drink. This may be a difficult conversation to have, but it may also be necessary to avoid a potentially tragic situation.
Be a Responsible Host
If you are throwing a party of your own during the holidays where there will be alcohol consumed, take steps to help ensure that everyone gets home from your party safely. Have a good supply of food on hand as well as non-alcoholic beverage options, so your guests will be less likely to get overly intoxicated. And for those who do have too much to drink, be ready to let them spend the night or have an alternative plan for them to get a safe ride home.
Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident in Alabama? Contact a Seasoned Auto Accident Lawyer
Despite our best efforts, we cannot control the actions of others. If you or someone close to you has been injured in a car accident that was caused by a drunk driver, Burge & Burge is here to help! Call our office today at 205-251-9000 or message us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.