The holiday season is officially here! Retailers and businesses are preparing for holiday sales, holiday meals are being planned, and family travel plans are being made. An estimated 107 million Americans traveled for the holidays between December 23, 2017 and January 1, 2018 alone. About 90 percent of those holiday travelers took to the roads, potentially contributing to an unfortunate statistic: 40 percent of fatal traffic accidents during the holidays are attributed to drunk or impaired drivers. That’s almost double compared to the rest of the year, during which 28 percent of traffic deaths involve alcohol.
Drinking and the Holidays: A Dangerous Tradition
For some, holiday celebrations and alcohol go hand in hand. Having drinks during family gatherings or while out with friends is well integrated into American culture, so we often don’t even think about it. 16 percent of U.S. adults admit to drinking more during the holidays, with about half stating alcohol is a part of their family traditions.
While having a drink or two is not inherently a problem, the trouble comes when people elect to drive under the influence. Drunk drivers often overestimate their abilities to drive safety, despite issues such as:
- Impaired coordination
- Reduced reaction time
- Difficulty focusing
- Inability to do complex tasks such as drive
People who are under the influence may be unable to comprehend the dangers associated with getting behind the wheel of a car. Alcohol lowers one’s inhibitions, making them more likely to engage in activities they otherwise would not, such as drunk driving. It is up to us to protect ourselves and each other.
MADD ‘Tie One on For Safety’
Each year, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hosts ‘Tie One on For Safety,’ a nationwide event intended to raise awareness for holiday DUI risks and prevent tragedy. 891 people died in drink driving accidents in 2017 between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day alone. Since 1986, MADD has been working to reduce these fatalities and make our roads a little safer.
Participants of the ‘Tie One on For Safety’ campaign can purchase and display a car ribbon to remind others to practice safe drinking habits this holiday season. These include:
- Having a designated driver.
- Using car services such as Lyft or Uber.
- Making arrangements to stay at the host’s home if intoxicated.
- Electing for non-alcoholic party alternatives.
Because underage drinking is also a prevalent problem during the holidays, we also encourage parents to be mindful and observant. Don’t provide alcohol for minors, even during special occasions. Ensure your teen has a safe and reliable means of transportation to and from any parties they may attend. Keep the line of communication open-- if your teen suspects their ride is under the influence, be sure they know you are available as an alternative, no matter the circumstances. These little reminders may seem like nothing, but they could end up preventing the unimaginable.
Safe Landing urges you to have a safe, responsible, and happy holiday season!