Drinking Can Turn Holidays into Disaster
Thanksgiving is one of the most joyous times of the year, an opportunity for families to reunite and count their blessings.
Unfortunately, gatherings of family and friends and holiday celebrations can also include excessive drinking and the tragedies that often stem from driving under the influence of alcohol.
The Thanksgiving travel period from the Wednesday before the holiday through Sunday afterward is one of the most dangerous driving times in the nation each year. In 2012, a total of 416 motorists died in traffic accidents during the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Forty-two percent of the accident victims were killed in crashes that involved a drunk driver who had a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.
A MADD survey conducted found that 73 percent of adults saw someone trying to drive after consuming too much alcohol. One out of five people admitted they did nothing to stop it.
Because of the festive atmosphere and increased number of parties during the holidays, the incidence of drinking and driving increases and raises the number of DUI-related accidents.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol participated in Operation CARE (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) during the Thanksgiving travel period during 2013 and reported these sobering statistics.
- Fatal crashes: 7
- Fatalities: 9
- Unrestrained fatalities: 2
- Alcohol-related crashes: 18
- Total collisions: 141
- DUI arrests: 67
- Speeding citations: 1,089
- Seat-belt citations: 976
- Child-restraint citations: 26
- Motorist assists: 601
Throughout 2013, Oklahoma reported 3,824 alcohol-related crashes, which led to 168 fatalities and 346 incapacitating injuries, according to Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.
Red Ribbons for Safety
Since 1986, MADD has been encouraging people to wear red ribbons or tie one on their vehicles during the holidays to raise awareness about the dangers of drunk driving.
MADD encourages people to follow these simple safety steps during the holidays to avoid DUI-related accidents and deaths.
- No matter how little you drink or think you’ve had, don’t drive.
- Always appoint a designated driver before arriving at a party or event. That eliminates confusion.
- When holding a party, set rules on drinking and driving and offer to let people spend the night or give them a ride home if they’ve been drinking.
- Wear a red ribbon to increase awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving.
- Hand out pamphlets with DUI-related statistics to educate family, friends and co-workers about the risks of drinking and driving.
- Stay off the roads in the early evening and late hours around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. That’s when drunk drivers are most likely to be on the road.
- Make sure you and your passengers, including children, are properly buckled up and strapped in at all times to protect yourself in a crash.
Oklahoma’s Operation CARE is part of a national initiative that focuses on enforcement of alcohol-related offenses, speeding and restraint violations during the Thanksgiving travel period.
By following the common-sense advice of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, you can greatly increase your chances of avoiding a devastating auto accident and reaching your destination alive throughout the holidays, ensuring you will enjoy many more Thanksgivings to come.
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