With the holiday season upon us, millions of American families are packing up and driving around the country. Whether you are visiting Grandma a little way down the road, or the other Grandma who lives several hours away, safety will always be paramount in your family’s travels.
This is a wonderful time of year for celebrating and being with loved ones, and that is why it is so important to be aware of the dangers that impaired driving present during the holiday season.
While the majority of Americans have at least a general awareness of the threats posed by impaired and distracted driving, there are still many who are uneducated about this worldwide problem. In the vast majority of cases, these dangers are easily avoidable, and education could be one of the most helpful tools in keeping your family safe on the roads this holiday season.
That is why December has been designated as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. This special proclamation from the President of the United States is designed to warn and educate all Americans of the dangers impaired driving presents to drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
With the holiday season now in full swing, you can do your part to educate those around you about safe driving practices. Through this effort, there is hope of promoting responsible behavior and preventing the problem that has already robbed so many Americans of their loved ones.
Impaired Driving Statistics
Although impaired driving presents a constant threat year-round, there is a noticeable spike in travel and road traffic during the holidays, particularly in the month of December. It is also a time when increased celebration also means increased use of alcohol, and it is the hope that NIDPM can help Americans realize the importance of not mixing travel and alcohol.
NIDPM was first recognized in 2012 when impaired driving accidents were becoming an epidemic that especially affected young people. In 2013, over 10,000 people were killed in accidents involving a drunk drivers—that is one person every 53 minutes. The number had decreased slightly by 2015, but still 28 people die every day as a result of drunk driving crashes.
By far, the highest percentage of these were young people. In 2011, the percentage of impaired driving accidents involved:
- 32 percent between ages 21 to 24
- 30 percent between ages 25 to 34
- 24 percent between ages 35 to 44
Although these numbers do not account for drivers under the legal drinking age, many of them are involved in crashes involving other substances. A 2010 survey performed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed that 13.2 percent of drivers over age 16 drove under the influence of alcohol, and 4.3 percent drove under the use of illicit drugs.
Keeping Your Family Safe
Due to increased traffic and celebration during the holiday season, impaired driving incidents are known to increase significantly in November and December. It is important for all Americans to be aware of the dangers of impaired driving and educate their family members, especially if you are a parent to a teenager who can be more at risk for accidents.
As far as keeping your family safe during your holiday travels, you should always observe traditional safe driving strategies and be sure that safety is always your top priority. In addition to increased traffic and potential for impaired drivers, roads will become increasingly more dangerous as winter weather becomes more severe.
You should also educate yourself on other strategies that are specific to winter roads before you take the family out to Grandma’s. By educating yourself and others about the dangers presented by impaired driving—specifically around the holidays—and taking special care to drive safely, you can help bring a safe end to this year and ensure an even safer 2018.