Accidents happen, perhaps especially on the roadways. When drunk drivers are present, accidents – often serious, sometimes fatal – are that much more likely to happen. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is among the top causes of traffic accidents in the United States every year. In 2018, drunk drivers were involved in 29% of all traffic fatalities. That percentage has been consistent for many years. More than 10,500 people died in 2018 in traffic accidents in which at least one driver had a blood alcohol content of .08% – the legal limit in every state. On average, an alcohol-related traffic death happened more than once per hour in 2018, at an economic cost of more than $44 billion.
While driving under the influence usually is the result of drinking alcoholic beverages, times change, and both legal and illegal drugs now are a factor in about 16% of all traffic accidents. These drugs can include prescription drugs, especially painkillers, that impair performance as well as illegal drugs ranging from marijuana to heroin or fentanyl or other opioids, whether legally or illegally obtained.
The Holidays Only Enhance the Risk of Being Hurt by a Drunk Driver
Everybody wants to have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Unfortunately, for many folks, that involves drinking too much at a holiday party and then driving home. Even if you are responsible about your drinking during the holidays, the odds are that you are on the road with people who were not. Every year, the year-end holidays, particularly Christmas and New Year’s Eve, see a dramatic increase in the number of people who are driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances. It does not matter if you are sober, you are likely on the road with people who are not, and you are facing a heightened risk of an accident with a driver who is under the influence.
Police generally increase their efforts to arrest drivers who are under the influence during the year-end holidays. After all, the holidays come with an increased likelihood that people will be driving under the influence. Even people who do not often drink alcohol tend to have a few at holiday parties, and people who do tend to drink often drink even more at holiday parties. One way or another, there are generally more people on the roads during the Christmas-New Year’s period than at any other time of year. Mix in the winter driving conditions in much of the nation, and you have a recipe for a greater risk of accidents.
People driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol kill hundreds of people every holiday season, causing roughly 300 traffic deaths each year just in the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
The holiday season can be a killer on the roads – literally. Drunk drivers are responsible for hundreds of deaths every holiday season, and even more injuries.