Now that Thanksgiving is over, the holiday season is well underway. The roads are packed with college students returning home to their parents, relatives visiting relatives and co-workers leaving holiday parties.
The weather is rough, traffic is busier than ever and — unfortunately — drunk driving is a regular occurrence. This combination makes December one of the most dangerous months for driving. According to national highway statistics, alcohol-related traffic incidents surge by as much as 25 percent during the holidays. More people die in alcohol-related traffic accidents during the holidays than at any other time of year.
It begins the day before Thanksgiving
Black Wednesday — also known as Blackout Wednesday — is the day before Thanksgiving. Black Wednesday has nothing to do with shopping and everything to do with dangerous amounts of alcohol consumption. Law enforcement recognizes Black Wednesday as the start of the holiday drinking season. During and after Black Wednesday, the number of DUIs skyrocket.
Black Wednesday has already occurred this year, so it’s important to remain on the lookout for intoxicated drivers.
It surges on Christmas and New Year’s
Statistics have indicated that two to three times more people die in alcohol-related crashes during Christmas and New Year’s than during comparable periods the rest of the year. Nearly half of all crashes during these holidays involve a driver who is alcohol-impaired — this is compared to 28 percent for non-holidays in December.
Long-term effects of a DUI
Most people are aware that drinking and driving can have terrible consequences. You might harm yourself — or someone else — in an accident. You might lose your license. You might be forced to spend some time in jail.
There are some other, less frequently discussed consequences as well. The financial cost can be tremendous — fines, rising insurance costs, lawyer fees and more can cost over $10,000. Losing your license could cost you your job if you can’t find an alternative way to get to work. A felony or misdemeanor DUI conviction will show up on a background check, making finding a new career — or a new apartment — nearly impossible.
How to stay safe this season
If you’re sober, remain vigilant when driving.
If you’re not sober, don’t drive. Call a taxi or Uber. If you live in the countryside, arrange for transportation beforehand from a relative or friend. Staying overnight on a couch or air mattress is another possibility. By planning ahead and taking care of yourself, you can avoid contributing to the large numbers of DUIs during the holiday season.
Untreated substance addiction can damage a person’s health, career, family and social life. The Sovereign Health Group’s alcohol addiction treatment program uses both technology and counseling to identify our patients’ neurological state as well as any lifestyle issues that could be hampering their path to sobriety. For more information, please contact our 24/7 helpline.
Written by Courtney Lopresti, M.S. neuroscience, Sovereign Health Group writer