Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) runs public safety campaigns each year around the Thanksgiving holiday. The Tie One on for Safety Campaign is MADD's response to substantially increased risks of drinking and driving over the Thanksgiving holiday period. "Thanksgiving weekend" is defined as the Wednesday immediately before Thanksgiving until the Sunday after the holiday. The Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving is so dangerous, MADD actually calls it "Blackout Wednesday."
There are two questions for motorists to consider: why is Thanksgiving such a high risk time for drunk driving, and what can I do to mitigate the elevated risks of DUI car accidents over this extended holiday weekend?
Understanding Elevated DUI Accident Risks over Thanksgiving
MADD indicates the percentage of drunk driving accidents is 30 percent greater over Thanksgiving as compared with normal non-holiday time periods. In 2010, 174 people died in Thanksgiving holiday DUI accidents, and impaired driving crashes accounted for 40 percent of Thanksgiving weekend fatalities.
This was a substantial increase from the prior year when there were 140 people killed in DUI accidents over Thanksgiving weekend, and when drunk driving was a factor in 34 percent of highway fatalities.
Drink Philly provides an explanation for why so many people in Pennsylvania tend to drink over the Thanksgiving holiday. Possible reasons for the rise in alcohol consumption include:
- Vacation time for everyone. Almost every American has time off from either work or school for the holiday weekend. People may feel moved to drink since they don't need to worry about going to work with a hangover the next morning.
- Wednesday night is a prime night for going to bars. Most people do not want to entertain in their homes on the night before Thanksgiving, since they will likely have a crowd over the next day. Instead, people who want to see friends and family will head out on the town and will then have to drive home... potentially drunk.
- Thanksgiving is a prime time to see old friends. Many people, including college students, will often return to their own home town for Thanksgiving after having been away, and most will want to catch up with friends they haven't seen in a while. Having a few drinks is a conventional way to catch up.
- Thanksgiving dinner can help cure hangovers. Having a big dinner can help you to bounce back and feel better if you drank too much the night before.
While you can and should enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday, even if that means having a few drinks, you must make certain that you are not putting yourself and others at risk of auto accidents. Don't drink and drive and if you are doing to drink, have a designated driver lined up before you start.