Holidays and Drunk Driving Accidents

The holidays are a festive season when most people like to celebrate and enjoy quality time with family and friends. This makes the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s the busiest travel season of the year. Nearly 100 million people will travel to visit loved ones (according to AAA) during this time period, and most will travel by car. This increased traffic combined with holiday celebrations where alcohol is consumed greatly heightens the risk of drunk driving accidents.

Alcohol-related crashes kill approximately 10,000 individuals throughout the year, and the numbers are much higher than average during the holiday season. In fact, during the week between Christmas and New Year’s alone, there are approximately 300 DUI-related deaths. Overall, drunk drivers play a role in approximately 40% of all traffic-related deaths during the holidays.

Tips for Staying Safe this Holiday Season

With so much activity during this time of year, we all need to do our part to keep ourselves and our families from becoming another statistic. Here are some important steps to take to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday:

Choose the Best Times to Travel

Statistically, it is best to be out driving during daylight hours as opposed to evenings and late nights. 30% of fatal accidents that happen at night involved a drunk driver, as opposed to only 9% of daytime accidents. It is also important to note that drunk driving arrests are approximately 50% higher than average on Christmas Eve, and 106% higher than average on New Year’s Eve. Keep these figures in mind as you decide when you will be driving.

Look Out for Signs of Drunk Driving

There are times when driving at night is unavoidable, and you may even have to drive during one of those particularly dangerous holiday evenings. When this is the case, you will probably be sharing the roads with some drivers that are intoxicated. Learn to recognize the signs of a drunk driver, which may include:

  • Weaving in and out of lanes, straddling over the center line, or weaving to the side of the road;
  • Hitting the brakes erratically without any reason to do so;
  • Speeding excessively or driving much slower than the speed limit;
  • Tailgating;
  • Making sharp or dangerous turns;
  • Running red lights and stop signs.

If any vehicles on the road exhibit these or other signs that the driver may be chemically impaired, keep a very safe distance, and report the driver to the police. When you call in the report, provide a description of the vehicle, what the driver was doing, and the location. If possible, also provide the vehicle license plate number.

Avoid Drunk Driving Yourself

It should go without saying that you should refrain from driving while intoxicated, but we know that this is sometimes easier said than done. If you know you might be drinking and you do not plan ahead, you could find yourself in a situation where it is tempting to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. Before going out, know exactly how you plan to get home safely.

The best plan is to have a designated driver along who will not be drinking, or to have someone available who you can call for a ride home if needed. In the absence of these options, plan on taking a cab or using a ride share service like Uber. Finally, if you are going to a function that is far from your home, consider reserving a hotel or motel room nearby where you can spend the night.

Be a Responsible Social Host

If you are going to be hosting a party during the holidays where alcohol will be consumed, think about your guests and how they will get home safely. You might want to consider making your home or the location of the party available for guests to sleep over if they have had too much to drink. Or alternatively, you could arrange rides for those who do not have a way to get home without driving drunk. Remember also not to serve alcohol to any guests who are under the age of 21 as you may be held responsible for any intoxicated minors who drive away from your party and cause an accident.

Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident in Virginia? Speak with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

Even if we do everything possible to stay safe during the holidays, we cannot control the actions of others. If you or a loved one suffered injury at the hands of a drunk driver, contact Schilling and Esposito for assistance. Call our office today at 804-320-0950 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. We look forward to serving you!


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