Deaths Related To DUI Increase Over The Holidays

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Deaths Related To DUI Increase Over The Holidays

According to Safety In Numbers, a newsletter published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in the days surrounding Christmas, more than 300 people die in drunk driving accidents across the U.S. There are more motor vehicle-related deaths during this time, and the number of drivers who are over the legal limit are greater than the yearly average.

Many people try to do their own blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level calculation when drinking, but this is far from an exact science. BAC can vary not just upon the number of drinks, but type of drink, the size of the drink, body weight, gender, elapsed time, and recent food intake. If you have existing heath conditions, this can also increase your BAC when compared to others.

The truth is, if you have more than two glasses of wine or beer within a two hour period, you may be over the legal limit. In particular, people who have never been arrested for a DUI may assume that they can drive safe with 3-4 drinks in their system; however, this is often not the case.

Indeed, one of the reasons that drunk driving accidents tend to increase over the holidays is because people who don’t regularly drink are more likely to imbibe. That is, they may not realize they are over the legal limit – naivety is common among those who aren’t big drinkers. However, low tolerance can increase the chance that driving ability will be impaired.

Simply put, the best way to avoid impaired driving is to not drive at all if you have any alcohol at all in your system.

Other factors that may increase traffic fatalities during the holidays include more teens on the road because of winter break, inclement weather conditions, and darkness.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that 40% of auto vehicle-related deaths during Christmas and New Year’s involve drunk driving. That’s a 12% increase over the rest of December.

Other Facts

  • During the Christmas period an average of 45 fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver occurred each day.
  • Over New Year’s holiday there is an average of 54 fatalities per day involving an alcohol-impaired driver.
  • The number of traffic stops for a suspected DUI increases by around 33% on Christmas Eve due to drinking at holiday parties.
  • Christmas day itself doesn’t usually see increases in the number of drinking and driving traffic-related deaths, most likely because people are often gathered together and less likely to traveling.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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