Preventive Care

Drinking + Driving: A Bad Mix

Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is the most dangerous time of year for alcohol-related issues. Updated for 2017, the Holiday Drinking & DUI infographic by “Sobering Up” tells the story of impaired driving over the winter holidays. One key data point: 40% of traffic-related deaths during the holidays are caused by drunk driving.

People believe they know their limits. They have a couple of drinks at the holiday party at work, then get behind the wheel. Or they enjoy wine at a relative’s dinner party, followed by a spiked egg nog or two (or three) before bundling the family in the car to drive home.

Time and again, drivers who have had a couple of drinks put themselves and others at risk. You don’t have to be falling-down drunk to be too impaired to drive.

Here’s a sobering statistic but one worth noting: drunk driving is still the No. 1 cause of death on U.S. roadways.

Every two minutes someone is injured in a crash that involves alcohol, and a person dies every 51 minutes in alcohol-related road accidents. That’s a lot of needless tragedy.

Alcohol-impaired crashes (where a driver had a blood alcohol content [BAC] of 0.08 or higher) plays a significant role in the overall increase in traffic fatalities. Data from the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NTHSA) shows that overall traffic deaths and alcohol-involved road fatalities increased in 2016 over the previous year. It’s the first time in more than a decade that deaths on America’s roads had increased for two consecutive years. Nearly 2,000 more people died on U.S. roads in 2016 compared to 2015, up 5.6%.

These statistics add fuel to concerns that progress on reducing drunk driving is slowing down. The number of alcohol-impaired traffic deaths has stubbornly hovered near 10,000 per year since 2010. Dips below 10,000 deaths in 2011 and 2014 suggested that things were moving in the right direction, but a consistent downward trend has hit the brakes, and with tragic results.

If you drink, please don’t become a statistic. Arrange for someone who’s sober to drive you home.

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