The Holidays and Drunk Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ranks thanksgiving as one of the most dangerous times for car accidents. Many people make long-distance trips during this holiday and traffic is heavy, leading to accidents. As well, drinking at holiday events and dinners leads to many drunk driving accidents during the Thanksgiving weekend. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some motorists try to drive rather than taking a plane in order to save money. However, when they rush from dinner to car to drive home, they often speed to get home or to dinner on time. Late dinners (with drinks) can also cause driver drowsiness, which can lead to accidents.

Thanksgiving usually falls near the weekend, and according to researchers this makes the holiday especially problematic in terms of car accidents and drunk driving. Memorial Day and Labor Day, two other holidays which fall near the weekend, also suffer from the same problem: traffic congestion and days of heavy dinners and events that include alcohol. Since people do not need to return to work immediately after a long weekend, experts note, some people are more inclined to imbibe. When people get into a car after drinking, tragedy results.

Holiday traffic can also lead to accidents. Researchers at York University in Toronto found that drivers confined in cars in heavy traffic have elevated levels of stress, which can lead to aggressive driving. When drivers drink before driving, their inhibitions are lowered and they may make poorer decisions when stressed. They may be more inclined, for example, to drive aggressively in order to try to beat traffic.

New Year’s Eve is also a holiday which results in many drunk driving convictions and many accidents. In fact, researchers evaluated New Year’s as the sixth deadliest holiday of the year. Revellers often drink champagne or other alcoholic beverages in order to celebrate. A limited number of taxis at the end of the night may tempt some people to drive home drunk.

The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s tends to be the deadliest, as there are several holidays and social events grouped together. In fact, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) estimates that each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, more than 1,000 people die from drunk driving accidents alone. Many more thousands suffer head injuries, broken limbs, spinal cord injuries, burn injuries, amputations, and other serious injury. Many more thousands are in car accidents caused by factors other than drinking.

Obviously, drivers will want to be extra careful at this time of year. Developing a plan for drinking and getting home safely is a must. Always wearing a seat belt helps prevent brain injuries in an accident. It is also important to turn mobile devices and other distractions off while driving. The more you focus on getting to your destination safely, the more likely you are to arrive at 2010 safe and healthy.

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