Not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
By Hannah Nguyen
The holiday season is often deemed as the most wonderful time of the year. However, with the increase in drunk drivers and drunk driving collisions during the holidays, can it truly be considered as the most wonderful time of the year?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), states that the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration while driving is 0.08%. At that blood alcohol concentration level, the predicted effects of alcohol include poor muscle coordination and impaired judgment. These effects can lead to a loss of concentration, balance, vision, and hearing, decreasing one’s reaction time. Penalties for being caught drunk driving include revocation of their driver’s license, time in jail, and fines – a first-time offense costing upwards of $10,000 from both fines and legal fees.
According to Psych Central, people who get drunk during the holidays usually do not drink and have a low alcohol tolerance. At social occasions during the holidays, they are often inclined to misjudge how much they can drink and risk driving under the influence.
Blackout Wednesday is used to describe the day before Thanksgiving because of the numerous driving collisions that occur. Guardian Interlock states that on Blackout Wednesday, the “high . . . [number] of people on the road as they travel to spend the holiday with family members” makes this day one of the most dangerous days for driving in the year. Blackout Wednesday is also notable due to it being one of the biggest days for drinking in the year, increasing the number of drunk drivers on the road. As Forbes reports, during Thanksgiving of 2012, there were around 50,000 car accidents, 764 of them being fatal; a minimum of 40% those fatalities were caused by drunk driving collisions. Furthermore, the increase in drunk driving does not stop there. Drivingschool.net states that “40 percent of traffic-related deaths during Christmas and New Year’s involve drunk drivers — a 12 percent increase over the rest of the month of December.” This increase in drunk driving collisions does not just occur on Thanksgiving, but on the holidays that follow as well.
The consequences of drunk driving do not just affect the driver, but their friends, their family, the people in the car with them, and the vehicles around them, too. A staff member from EWHS describes a situation where someone close to them was affected by drunk driving. Their friend was upset due to a conversation with an ex, so she “took a bunch of shots of whiskey”, leaving for work afterwards. Without realizing any of the damage she made, she hit a parked car and continued driving until she parked, eventually resulting in her having to go to the hospital. There was “no excuse for what they did,” says the staff member.
Mia Oscarsson, a sophomore, says that drunk driving is a disastrous choice since “alcohol is something that can affect your judgment.” She states that driving under the influence is dangerous and that she doesn’t “think [she’ll] ever be interested in having alcohol because of this.” She thinks that “during the holiday season, the danger of drunk driving would increase because . . . people [usually] meet together and have drinks, whether with family or friends.”
To prevent drunk driving during the holiday season, Meemic Insurance Company recommends for people who plan on drinking to designate a driver beforehand, call a taxi, or find other ways to avoid driving. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the hazards of drunk driving and prevent it from happening to make the roads safer for everyone this holiday season.
Featured Photo by Hannah Nguyen