Laughter, celebration, togetherness. These are often themes that surround the month of December as people celebrate the holiday season and the end of another year. But did you know that December is also one of the most dangerous times to be on the road?
With family, work and friend holiday parties, many people drink alcohol and get behind the wheel. December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month — an observance that reminds everyone to drive safely this holiday season and to understand the tragic consequences of drunk or drugged driving.
Don’t “wreck” your holiday season
It’s your responsibility to ensure your safety and the safety of others by driving sober. Be honest with yourself about how much you expect to drink and plan ahead. Designate a driver. Take an Uber, Lyft or other ridesharing service. Download the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) SaferRide app. The statistics show that too many people drive when they shouldn’t be:
- In December 2016, 3,067 people died in a motor vehicle crash. Of those, 781 people, or 25 percent, were killed in drunk driving accidents.
- During the timeframe from Christmas through New Year’s Day, an average of 300 people died each year from 2012–2016 in drunk driving crashes.
- From 2012–2016, 14,472 people dried in traffic crashes in the month of December. Of those, 3,995 people, or 28 percent, died in a drunk driving crash.
Download the infographic: Holiday DUI Facts
All statistics from the NHTSA.
How to spot a drunk driver
When you’re driving sober, you must remain vigilant to ensure your and your passengers’ safety. Drunk drivers have difficulty with common driving tasks, so watch out for drivers who do the following:
- Drift over the center line or cross a double yellow line.
- Weave in and out of lines, straddle two lanes or drive into the wrong line.
- Run over or hit a curb, drive into other objects such as garbage cans or clip roadside mailboxes.
- Fail to use headlights or use their bright lights when it’s dark.
- Stop short of or overshoot a stop sign/light, run a stop sign/light or stop on the road, or respond slowly to traffic signals.
- Drive 10 mph less than the speed limit — drunk drivers are more likely to drive too slow than too fast.
- Make erratic speed changes — first drive too slow and then too fast — and erratic braking.
- Turn suddenly, fail to use turning signals or turn from the wrong lane
- Tailgate and nearly hit other cars
What to do if you suspect a drunk driver
If you witness a driver exhibiting these behaviors, you’re more than likely driving alongside a drunk driver. Here’s what you should do:
- Stay away from the vehicle. Don’t try to pass the vehicle to get away, but keep distance to ensure your safety.
- At a safe distance, record the vehicle make, model and license plate number.
- Call 911 and give the operator a description of the vehicle along with the license plate number, the location of the vehicle and the direction it’s traveling.
- Let the police do their job and go on your way. You’ve done your due diligence, so focus on getting to your destination safely.
Plan ahead this holiday season so that you can safely celebrate and not worry about finding a ride home after you’ve been drinking. Do your part to ensure our roads stay safe this month, and make a New Year’s resolution to drive sober in 2019.
Related content: Intoxalock Offers Practical Tips to Avoid DUIs During the Holiday Season (press release, 2016)