The Holidays Increase the Risk of Dangerous Driving and Domestic Abuse

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Drunk Driving

Most of us enjoy celebrating the holidays with family and friends and time off work, but this time of the year is when more people drink beyond their limits. Unfortunately, some people will suffer consequences that range from domestic violence to traffic accidents. Some people simply don’t understand the effects that drinking can have, and they put themselves and others at risk just to have a good time.

Most Dangerous Holidays to be on the Road

According to research from the National Safety Council, holidays like New Year’s Day and Fourth of July are more likely to see people drink and drive. Between 2007 and 2011, during the New Year’s period, an estimated 42 percent of traffic fatalities were the result of drinking and driving. Interestingly, Christmas is the holiday with the lowest number of traffic fatalities compared to the other holidays, with 35 percent of accidents a result of drinking and driving.

Some may bring up the issue of poor weather conditions and how this could impact safe driving, but inclement weather is accounted for in the research. In fact, the Council has found that there are more fatal traffic accidents when the weather is good. This is believed to be the case because more people travel and don’t drive as safely when the roads are clear.

Let’s take a closer look at the most dangerous holidays on the road, starting with the most dangerous. This is based on information from the Council between 2007-2011.

  • Fourth of July: Estimated fatalities, 540
  • Memorial Day: Estimated fatalities, 407
  • Thanksgiving Day: Estimated fatalities, 436
  • Labor Day: Estimated fatalities, 394
  • New Year’s Day: Estimated fatalities, 156
  • Christmas Day: Estimated fatalities, 105

Tips for Safe Drinking Over the Holidays

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism urges people to understand the effects of drinking over the holidays. Alcohol’s effects begin quickly, and they don’t stop when the drink is put down. It’s easy to misjudge how long these effects last, which is why some drivers think they are okay to drive, when really, they are not. Also, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. A cup of coffee won’t sober you up. Only time will.

The best thing to do is plan ahead. Don’t work out driving arrangements after you arrive at a party. Have a designated driver in advance or take public transportation. You can also have a friend or family member on call to pick you up. Many people won’t mind the small favor if it keeps you and everyone else on the road safe. A few other tips from the NIAA include :

  • Pace yourself. Don’t have more than one drink per hour.
  • Have drink spacers. These are non-alcoholic drinks like water or fruit juice in between each alcoholic drink.
  • Give yourself time. If you overdrink, don’t feel rushed to get yourself home. Sit down, relax and drink some water. Only time will help.
  • Know the signs of alcohol poisoning. If you or a friend crosses the line between drunk and dangerously drunk, it’s important to get help.

Remember, keeping your drinking in check keeps you in check. You don’t want to say or do anything embarrassing in front of family, friends or coworkers, so pace yourself and avoid the pitfalls of becoming drunk.

Domestic Abuse and the Holidays

Another factor to discuss is the link between domestic abuse and the holidays. A study examining police reports in Idaho found that domestic abuse reports are higher than normal on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Another study in a large U.S. city also reported a higher number of incidents on New Year’s Day. Not all data shows an increase in domestic abuse calls around the holidays, but keep in mind that domestic abuse is one of the most underreported crimes.

Some of the elements that contribute to the possible rise in domestic abuse cases around the holidays are:

  • More drinking
  • Increased time at home with the abuser
  • Financial stress of gift giving
  • Being jobless
  • Strained family relationships
  • Home foreclosure
  • Stress of being at many events
  • Holiday traveling
  • Excess of parties, drugs and alcohol

The holidays are meant to be celebrated, but there are plenty of ways to have fun and be in the company of others without relying on alcohol. If you do decide to drink over the holidays, drink responsibly. It’s easy to get lost in the fun of a party and believe you’re okay to drive. For tips on having fun at holiday parties without sipping on alcohol, check out this post