Long holiday weekends are a great time to see family and friends, and enjoy the presence of loved ones at barbeques, bonfires, and cocktail parties. But these happy occasions can turn from great times to tragic ones with a single bad decision. Too often, someone leaves the party thinking they’re okay to drive after they’ve had too many drinks.
Each year, thousands of people are arrested and cited for drunk driving, and many others lose their lives. In 2013, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for almost 31 percent of overall driving fatalities on US roads (10,076 deaths).
Labor Day marks the end of the “100 deadliest days of summer,” which run from Memorial Day until the end of Labor Day. During this time, an average of 260 teens are killed each month, an increase of 26% compared to other months of the year. In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 38 percent of fatalities were caused by drunk drivers over Labor Day weekend—that’s 161 lives that are lost.
Independence Day also falls within that 100-day window, and is historically one of the worst holidays for driving and alcohol-impaired accidents. In 2002, there were 629 automobile-related deaths. Those numbers have decreased over time but are still higher than most holidays. From 2007 to 2011, the NHTSA reported that alcohol accounted for 61 deaths per day over the Independence Day travel period.
Here are four more holidays that can quickly turn from delightful to disastrous with just one bad decision:
An occasion which should be the happiest of the year is, sadly, one of the deadliest with an average of 414 car fatalities per year. AAA estimated that 96.8 million people travel during the holiday season to see family and friends, and the majority of people will travel by car. The day of the week on which Christmas falls can cause an increase or decrease in the number of cars on the road, and accordingly can impact total fatalities.
This also includes the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, which has been given the name Blackout Wednesday because of a tendency for people to binge drink. In 2008, Thanksgiving was the deadliest Thursday of the year and was also the deadliest holiday.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are known for parties, a midnight kiss, and a bad hangover. NHTSA also found that nearly half of all traffic fatalities on January 1 are a result of alcohol consumption—the most of any U.S. holiday. BACtrack reported that while New Year’s isn’t the most dangerous day to drive, it is the most dangerous holiday for a pedestrian; use caution whether you’re on the road or the sidewalk.
St Patrick’s Day
It doesn’t matter if you have the luck of the Irish if you’re drinking and driving on St. Patrick’s Day. From 2009 to 2013 the NHTSA found that 276 people were killed over that holiday. That equates to almost two out of every five car fatalities that were a result of drunk driving.
What can you do?
Consider sponsoring free cab rides for those that have had too much to drink on a holiday. Most major cities across the country also have programs like this for holidays associated with heavy drinking. You can look for opportunities to help sponsor different activities to help prevent drunk driving.
It might seem like you’re shouting into the void, but you can also become a source of information for the people that follow you on social media. Remind people to drive responsibly or suggest that they avoid peak travel times Let your followers know about different community resources that are available to them in your area, such as DUI checkpoints, a safe party guide, etc.
Let’s do our best to keep holidays happy, and enjoy the Labor Day weekend responsibly.