Drunk Driving Accidents Soar on Holidays

Everyone loves the holidays—time off, reconnecting with family and friends, the food, the drinks. Unfortunately, the celebratory spirit can cause people to overindulge and make poor decisions when it comes to drinking and driving. Alcohol-related injury reports from the North Carolina Department of Transportation show that specific holidays are the most dangerous for drunk driving accidents.

In fact, an alarming 40 percent of highway deaths during North Carolina’s 2017 holiday season were alcohol-related compared to an average of just 31 percent for the rest of the year. If you have been in a holiday drunk driving accident, contact an experienced Charlotte car accident lawyer about your claim as soon as possible.

High-Risk Holidays for Driving

The odds of getting into a car accident increase during periods when there are more drivers on the road and when inclement weather creates poor road conditions. But when the number of alcohol impaired drivers increases, the odds skyrocket.
Consider the following drinking holidays ranked by North Carolina’s number of drunk driving accidents reported in 2017:

#1. Thanksgiving – 207 Crashes
Law enforcement officials often consider Thanksgiving Eve, or “Black Wednesday,” the start of the holiday DUI season. Car accidents may increase before, during and after Thanksgiving as more cars predictably mean more collisions. According to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, 23 fatal collisions and 445 DWI arrests were reported in 2017.

#2. Christmas – 176 Crashes
While Christmas Day does not typically result in an increase in the number of drunk driving accidents, the number of DUI-related traffic stops often increases by 33 percent on Christmas Eve. Distracted driving in addition to seasonal weather means that even driving home from holiday parties with a blood alcohol content below .08 can lead to a fatal car accident.

#3. Fourth of July – 175 Crashes
Lurking among the “100 Deadliest Days” of summer is the 4th of July. With most teen drivers on summer break from school, they account for nearly 10% of drunk driving fatalities.

#4. Labor Day – 160 Crashes
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 40% of traffic deaths during the Labor Day weekend involved alcohol. And with 67% of alcohol-involved Labor Day drunk driving accidents occurring between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., night is the deadliest time to be on the road.

#5. Memorial Day – 158 Crashes
As the official beginning of summer, the Memorial Day four-day period has roughly 20 percent more fatal collisions than all other major holidays. In 2017, 50% of North Carolina’s traffic fatalities over Memorial Day weekend were alcohol related.

#6. Easter – 138 Crashes
Although Easter is not normally associated with alcohol consumption, March Madness parties, Sunday dinners, and Easter festivities can lead to social drinking. Nearly 31% of all car fatalities in 2017 were alcohol related during this weekend.

#7. New Years – 82 Crashes
A new ranking based on NHTSA and other data shows that North Carolina ranks 15th for impaired driving deaths with 4.02 deaths per capita in 2017 on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. A high number of pedestrian deaths, bad weather conditions and fatigued drivers also contribute to New Year’s driving dangers.

In addition to traditional holidays, special occasions and national observances like Halloween and the Super Bowl also contribute to high rates of pedestrian deaths and drunk driving accidents. For example, a NHTSA study found that alcohol-related crashes claimed a life every 51 minutes on St. Patrick’s Day in 2010, accounting for 32% of all fatalities that occurred that day.

When Do Most Drunk Driving Accidents Occur?

When you’re looking for a road map to proactively avoid days and times when drivers are most vulnerable to drunk driving accidents, research statistics provide the answers. The NHTSA reported that most accidents occur during “rush hour,” between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. And with more drivers traveling, and more opportunities for social drinking, Saturday is the most dangerous day of the week to drive.

In fact, the NHTSA reported that 34% of fatal drunk-driving accidents occur on the weekend between midnight and 3 a.m. That puts drivers at four times the risk driving at night than during the day.

How to Drive Safely During the Holidays

As a driver, you have a duty to make a commitment to never drink and drive. Plan your ride home in advance and utilize ride-sharing services. But when you and your family are simply traveling, there are several steps you can take to help protect yourself and others on the road.

  • Allow a gap of three to four car-lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Carefully follow the flow traffic while being mindful of the speed limit
  • Use your turn signals
  • Stay in your line
  • Avoid distraction

If you see a driver on the road who is showing the following signs of intoxication, call 911 to report the driver:

  • Weaving and swerving
  • Speeding
  • Erratic or sudden braking or stopping
  • Driving with high beams on
  • Driving with a turn signal on

What to Do After a Drunk Driving Accident

While you can take every safety precaution, it’s impossible to control other drivers’ choices. If you have been in a holiday car accident caused by a drunk driver, an experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights and options. At Campbell & Associates, we will guide you through every step to gather evidence, deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, and ensure that the full extent of your damages is considered when negotiating for a settlement.

If you are injured by an intoxicated driver on a holiday, the Charlotte car accident lawyers at Campbell & Associates are here to help. Do not wait to call (704)-326-7243 in order to schedule a free consultation.