Mark Roman | December 22, 2015 | Car Accidents
The dark side of the holidays is no big secret. For years, study after study has shown that impaired driving spikes during the holidays. And while New Year’s Day is not really the most dangerous day of the year to drive, the fact remains that alcohol-related driving deaths still spike around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.
People may still underestimate the danger posed by impaired driving, so a reminder is in order. Crash risk is four times greater for drivers who have a blood alcohol level of .08, the current legal limit in Florida. For drivers with .15 levels – almost twice the legal limit – crash risk is an astonishing 12 times greater.
One should not only think of alcohol when it comes to impaired driving. Alcohol is not the only drug which can make one dangerous behind the wheel. Many types of drugs are dangerous, including some perfectly legal prescribed drugs. Furthermore, as we’ve discussed in this blog many times, a driver who is stone sober becomes terribly dangerous when they text or otherwise drive with distraction.
Finally, other factors can make holiday driving more risky: less light during the shortest daylight periods of the year; poor weather with snow and ice, especially in the Northern states; fatigue from driving long distances to visit friends and family; and roads packed with people doing their holiday travel or shopping.
Fortunately, there are many things people can do to reduce their risk. Among some options are:
- Use alternative transportation. There is more of this available than ever. Besides the usual trains, bus, and taxi systems, there are many relatively new options. Uber (though controversial because of things like training and insurance requirements) now operates in most major U.S. cities. Pedicabs are also springing up in city centers such as St. Petersburg.
- Stay over. Instead of driving home from holiday parties with family or friends, bring an overnight bag and give yourself the option of staying put. A night on the couch is a lot better than a night in the hospital or jail. If you’re the one hosting, let your guests know they have this option and encourage them to exercise it.
- Plan strategically. Consider holding your holiday gatherings close to home, or at least in a way that minimizes the need for driving long distances. If you want to go several places with a large group of people, consider pitching in to get a party bus or limo with a professional driver. Also, look for events or gatherings that have access to public transportation. The Disney theme parks, for example, run shuttle buses to all their hotels and resorts located on their property. And finally, if these things aren’t feasible, designate a driver in advance and stick to that plan.
We wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season.
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