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Blogs from November, 2022

person driving an old car holding a green beer bottle

The holiday season is officially here, and for many people, that means traveling to visit loved ones, celebrating at an office party, and getting to engage in their favorite festivities. What these three activities also have in common, however, is that they often result in people consuming more alcohol. According to a 2018 study, the average American doubles their alcohol consumption between Thanksgiving and the New Year.

This increase in socializing also unfortunately results in higher rates of drunk driving. The end-of-year holiday periods in particular see alcohol-impaired driving fatality rates higher than the national average, per National Safety Council (NSC) data. Beginning with what is colloquially known as “Blackout Wednesday,” the end of the year often sees a surge in these types of crashes.

What is “Blackout Wednesday”?

Stemming from the phrase “blackout or back out,” the Wednesday before Thanksgiving has become notorious for people getting drunk. This day is also commonly referred to as “Drinksgiving” and for good reason; in 2019, shot sales increased by 173% compared to the previous week. In terms of overall alcohol sales, there was a 31% increase week-over-week.

But why does this increase in alcohol consumption occur? For many people, the Thanksgiving holiday is a time to reunite with family and friends, many of whom they haven’t seen in months (or even years). The anticipation of these emotional reunions often leads people to drink more alcohol than usual in order to “loosen up.”

In addition, the day off from work on Thanksgiving means that people have more free time during the day to drink. This extended period of drinking can result in higher blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) by the end of the day.

How Common is Drunk Driving During the Holiday Season?

Drunk driving incidents during the holidays extend beyond just the Thanksgiving period, and other holidays see a much more significant increase in these crashes than others. During the New Year period in 2019, 36% of traffic fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver, about 8% higher than the national average. The Christmas period also saw elevated rates, with 38% of fatal crashes involving a drunk driver. This was one of the highest rates in the last decade.

Late fall and early winter holidays are not unique in this. Summer holidays like Memorial, Independence, and Labor Day also see spikes in traffic accidents related to alcohol impairment.

Learn More: Does Drunk Driving Increase During the Summer?

Tips for Reducing Drunk Driving Accidents During the Holidays

There are a number of things that both individuals and communities can do to reduce drunk driving accidents during the holiday season.

If an individual plans on drinking, it’s important to have a designated driver or take advantage of rideshare services like Uber or Lyft—businesses will often give out codes for free or discounted rides to deter drunk driving. When hosting a holiday party, make sure to offer non-alcoholic drinks and snacks, and cut people off if they’ve had too much to drink. Hosts, if comfortable, may also request that those who have been drinking stay the night instead of attempting to drive home.

Communities can work to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving during the holidays through public service announcements and by organizing campaigns like “Sober Ride Home” programs. Local law enforcement agencies can employ zero-tolerance rules during the holidays that require drivers to take sobriety tests at certain checkpoints. It may also be beneficial to have a greater law enforcement presence in areas with more bars or nightlife.

Lastly, it's important for everyone to remember that drunk driving is the most preventable cause of collisions, and far too many lives are lost each year as a result. Stay sober and save lives.

Los Angeles Drunk Driving Accident Attorney

When you’ve lost a loved one or have been severely injured at the hands of an intoxicated driver, you deserve to pursue compensation for the damages they have caused. The California attorneys at Effres & Effres have spent nearly four decades holding negligent drivers accountable for endangering the roads. Call (818) 222-9720 today to learn how we can help you seek justice.


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