Experts Hope to Stop Holiday Season Rise in Drunk Driving Fatalities

December 12, 2011

Among all the cheer, presents, carols, tree trimming, friends, family gatherings and delicious food stands a frightening statistic that we should all keep in mind as we attend our holiday season celebrations- driving under the influence of alcohol causes two to three times more deaths in the week of Christmas and New Years than any other time of year. Perhaps people get an inflated feeling of invincibility during the holidays and ignore the better judgment they use the rest of the year or maybe people intake more alcohol with all the parties and vacations from work and school during the final week of the year.

Whatever the reasons, most likely there are a variety of factors contributing to the drastic rise in drunk driving accidents during this very specific time of year. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), during Christmas and New Years approximately 40 percent of deadly motor vehicle accidents are due to a driver behind the wheel who has had too much to drink. Fortunately these needless deaths are avoidable with a little bit of education and planning.

Misconceptions That May Lead People To Driving Under the Influence

There are some mistaken beliefs about alcohol and how it affects the human body that once rectified may go a long way in helping party-goers make life-saving choices this holiday season. Remember the following facts if you plan to drink alcohol during holiday celebrations this year:

  • Alcohol works both fast and slow. Alcohol impedes judgment and coordination long before someone is obviously drunk. At the same time, the effects last long after you finish your last drink. Alcohol enters and circulates in the bloodstream for many hours and driving skills can still be hampered the morning after a night of heavy alcohol consumption.
  • Late night driving is extra risky. Alcohol is a sedative that can increase the possibility of someone falling asleep behind the wheel when driving home late at night.
  • Coffee can’t make you sober. Time is the only thing that can help someone sober up. Caffeine can not assist someone who has had too much to drink.

Proactive Solutions To Avoid Alcohol-Related Car Accidents

Here are some additional tips for safe celebrations:

  • Make plans. Before you leave home decide how you are getting back. Have a taxicab company’s number on hand, a subway or bus schedule or a designated driver. If you can’t take advantage of one of these transportation options then do not drink.
  • Pace yourself. Don’t ingest more than one alcoholic beverage in an hour. In between alcoholic drinks have a non-alcoholic one.
  • Designated drivers should have zero alcohol. Don’t designate someone to drink less than everyone else. Designated driver means someone is willing to be alcohol free for the duration of the night.
  • Spread the word. Remember to share these friendly reminders with those you care about.


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