Fall is officially here, and not far behind is the holiday season. For most of us, this means more parties with friends and traveling to visit family. These activities, however, also generally result in an increased number of drunk drivers on the road, and increased numbers of drunk driving arrests.
The holiday “drunk driving” season typically spans from Labor Day, in September, to New Years Day. During this time, and particularly on the specific date of a holiday, there are significantly more drunk drivers on the road, leading to more DWI-related accidents and deaths. The Fourth of July is also a holiday that receives special attention from police, though it is generally not within the season of festivities.
To understand the scale of this increase, one only needs to look at the basic statistics. Throughout the year, the average number of deaths per day caused by intoxicated drivers is about 36. At Christmas, the average increases to 46 deaths per pay. For New Years, the holiday with the highest rate of DWI-related fatalities, the average further increases to 54 deaths per day.
Over the last few years, however, the number of DWI-related accidents and deaths during the holiday season has decreased. This is directly related to the increase of DWI arrests made on these same holidays. Police departments have significantly stepped up efforts to keep drunk drivers off the road at these times, with increased patrols and checkpoints on or after holidays.
While these efforts have worked to decrease the harm caused by drunk drivers, the increased arrest rate suggests that there is little to no decline in the number of drivers who choose to drive drunk. Rather, they are simply more often arrested before they can cause an accident. The risk of encountering a drunk driver while traveling on a holiday is still present on holidays. If you have to drive on a holiday, it is recommended that travelers avoid driving late at night or early in the morning, when drunk driving is most prevalent. Drivers should be mindful of the behaviors of the drivers around them. If you find yourself near a driver who seems to be intoxicated or is driving erratically, be sure to move away from the vehicle and call your local police department to report the driver and car.
Finally, throughout the holiday season, you should never let a friend or family member drive while they are drunk. A few extra hours spent your odd uncle or uppity friend can ensure their safety and the safety of others.