Before you go over the river and through the woods to grandma's house this holiday season, make sure to be particularly cautious, attentive, and defensive on North Carolina's highways.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving through January 1st (including New Year's day) are some of the most dangerous and deadly times to be on the roads. In fact, Thanksgiving eve has become THE most dangerous night of the year to drive, particularly in more urban areas, says SCRAM, makers of alcohol monitoring technology. Known as "Blackout Wednesday," this holiday has surpassed New Year's Eve and St. Patrick's Day as the biggest drinking night of the year.
Add to this more traffic, more distractions, aggressive drivers, and more social occasions involving alcohol. It is up to each of us to:
- Practice safe, defensive driving
- Buckle up and make sure all passengers are buckled too.
- Make sure you, or your driver, are fit to drive - not tipsy or drowsy. If you are a passenger, help minimize distractions and help the driver stay awake and alert.
In general: If you see something, say something. If you see someone who has had too much to drink trying to get behind the wheel, say something. If you're at a party, tell the host to take their keys, or call a designated driver for them.
If you are the party host, pay particular attention to how much alcohol you serve guests. If they injure someone while driving home, you could be liable under North Carolina law.
AAA reported that in 2015 more than 1.2 million people drove throughout North Carolina to their Thanksgiving destinations. No surprise, this family holiday ranks as one of the busiest travel periods just about every year. More cars on the roads too often translates to more accidents. Add alcohol to the equation, and this holiday weekend can turn deadly.
The Christmas holiday season can be stressful. Combine stress with busy roads and you can get aggressive drivers. A State Farm survey found that nearly one-third of drivers were more likely to show signs of aggression or road rage during the holidays.
New Year's Day
A surprise to some, New Year's Day (not New Year's Eve) almost always ranks in the top five deadliest days of the year, and has been ranked the deadliest day. Alcohol - a primary culprit.
Alcohol Behind Nearly Half of Holiday Car Crash Deaths
There's one thing each of these deadly days has in common: Drunk drivers. Over a 25-year period, according to a Forbes study that analyzed U.S. Department of Transportation data since 1982, nearly half the fatalities during these times were alcohol-related.
Tragic Consequences of North Carolina Drunk Driving
Here's a tragic story the News & Observer reported on recently about a drunk driving collision which could result in the young 22-year-old driver spending 70 years in prison. He was charged with multiple felonies after a collision he caused in Raleigh, which led to three deaths and multiple injuries.
The crash happened at 2:30 on a Sunday morning. He was driving drunk and traveling about 50 mph in a 35-mph zone. He lost control of the car and it went off the road, struck a light pole, a street sign, and a tree before overturning.
There were seven people inside the car. One of the victims was sitting in the lap of the driver at the time of the accident. The victims were just 22, 21, and 18. Two of the victims were thrown from the vehicle.
The young driver, who is the son of a pastor, is accused of six felony charges which could potentially carry a prison sentence of nearly 70 years total. He faces 17 years for each death and seven years for each serious injury.
Three lives ended. Another potentially behind bars for life. This deadly and totally preventable collision is just one of many fatal accidents that occur throughout North Carolina. The three young people who died will never enjoy another holiday with their families. And sadly, neither will the driver who killed them. He will likely be behind bars because he made the wrong choice to drink and drive.
Most Traffic Fatalities Preventable
A different News & Observer article pointed out that of 793 deaths so far in 2016, all but two of them could have possibly been prevented! Consider this:
- Alcohol was involved in 168 deaths
- 368 of those killed weren't wearing seat belts
- Speeding proved a factor in 155 deaths
- Distracted driving was a factor in 100 deaths
The story above checks every one of those boxes. Alcohol. Speed. Distracted driving. No seat belts.
Sadly, all were preventable.
Designate a Driver - It's Easier Than Ever
As you head into the holiday party season, keep in mind there are many more options today than ever for a sober ride home. Uber, Lyft, a North Carolina Designated Driver service, a taxi - and of course, a sober companion. Many of these services are as convenient as clicking on an app, and some are more affordable than a taxi. Some will even drive you and your car home.
There are just no more excuses to get behind the wheel when you've been drinking.
Get a FREE Case Evaluation From North Carolina Car Wreck Lawyers
If you do find yourself injured in an accident because of someone else's negligence - whether during the holidays or any other time - contact an experienced car wreck lawyer. Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer to represent them received 3.5X more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own1.
If you have been injured, contact us now for a free case evaluation to see if we can help or call us at 1-866-900-7078.
P.S. Since the holiday season is also football season, click here for ways to tailgate safely.
1 Insurance Research Council 1999