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Winter Holidays Bring Spike in Fatal Drunk Driving Deaths

Brandy glass with keys and nearly empty bottle in background.

Learn tips to avoid drunk driving this holiday season.

As the holiday season approaches, the risk of fatal drunk driving accidents looms larger. During the winter holidays, the U.S. experiences an increase in fatal drunk driving accidents.

In Washington State over the past three years, there have been more than 130 December fatal crashes in the state, with about 44 percent involving drivers impaired by alcohol.

It's a sobering reality that demands heightened awareness and responsible choices from drivers during this festive time. That's why December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

During this annual campaign, government agencies and safety advocates share information about how alcohol affects driving and how to prevent impaired driving accidents this holiday season.

Responsible alcohol choices combined with an awareness of the unique challenges posed by winter weather can contribute to a safer and more enjoyable holiday season for everyone.

Alcohol's effect on driving and injuries

In Washington State, where winter weather can bring challenging road conditions, it's especially crucial to recognize how alcohol impairs driving abilities.

Alcohol, mainly ethanol, impairs driving by slowing reaction time, reducing coordination, and affecting decision-making. Women may experience higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) than men of the same weight due to differences in body composition.

Individuals with lower body weight may also be more affected. The legal BAC limit for safe driving is typically 0.08%.

The combination of slick roads and impaired reaction times due to alcohol can heighten the risk of accidents during the holiday season. In addition, cold temperatures and the potential for icy roads amplify the impact of alcohol on the body.

The types of injuries most common in drunk driving accidents include:

  • Whiplash and neck strain. Sudden stops or collisions, especially on icy roads, can result in whiplash and strain on the neck.
  • Head trauma. Impact with vehicle components during a collision may cause various degrees of head trauma and/or traumatic brain injuries.
  • Bone fractures and breaks. The force of a crash can lead to fractures and breaks, with individuals sustaining injuries while bracing for impact.
  • Cuts and abrasions. The presence of broken glass or deployment of airbags may result in cuts and abrasions.
  • Back injuries. The jarring impact of a collision can result in back injuries, affecting the spine or causing herniated discs.
  • Internal harm. The force of a crash may lead to internal injuries, such as organ damage or internal bleeding.

Avoid impaired driving with these holiday driving tips

Given the elevated risks during winter conditions and the potential severity of accidents involving impaired drivers, individuals need to prioritize responsible and sober driving to mitigate these types of injuries.

Here are some ways to avoid impaired driving around the winter holidays:

  • Plan ahead for transportation. Arrange for a designated driver, use public transportation, or schedule a ride-sharing service well in advance. This ensures you have a safe alternative to driving under the influence.
  • Host alcohol-free events. If you're hosting a gathering, consider making it an alcohol-free event or providing non-alcoholic beverage options. This can create a festive atmosphere without the risk of impaired driving.
  • Stay overnight. If you plan on consuming alcohol at a holiday event, arrange to stay overnight at the host's place or book nearby accommodations. This eliminates the need to drive and helps prevent impaired driving.
  • Use technology to your advantage. Utilize ridesharing apps (e.g., Uber, Lyft), public transportation apps, or other technology to easily access safe and sober transportation options. Having these apps on your phone makes it convenient to choose a responsible alternative.
  • Encourage responsible behavior. If you notice someone who has consumed alcohol and is considering driving, take the initiative to discourage them. Offer alternative transportation options, help them find a sober driver, or provide a safe place for them to wait until they are sober enough to drive. Encouraging responsible choices can make a significant impact on road safety during the holidays.

Contact The Scott Law Firm if you were hit by a drunk driver

Impaired driving accidents are not only physically and emotionally traumatic but also carry significant financial ramifications. The Scott Law Firm, PLLC, is here to provide support and advocacy, ensuring that the rights of injured drunk driver victims are protected.

Our personal injury law firm knows how to handle complex cases and serves all of Southwest Washington. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact us for a free case evaluation. Our commitment is to help you navigate the legal process and secure the outcome your case deserves.

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