Sobering Facts About Holiday WeekendsTed Burgess
Hanging out with your friends and family during the holidays might include throwing back a few beers, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, hopping into the driver’s seat probably isn’t a good idea, and not just because of the countless DUI checkpoints throughout Los Angeles County. The sad fact is that drunk-driving injuries and fatalities nearly double around the holidays.
Here are some sobering facts:
- In 2012, 3.4 out of every 100,000 people in the United States died from alcohol-impaired driving, accounting for 31% of all traffic fatalities.
- In 2012, over 10,000 alcohol-related traffic fatalities involved drivers with a blood-alcohol content of over 0.08%.
- Of the people killed in alcohol-related accidents in 2012, 65% were drivers, 27% were passengers, and 8% were not inside a vehicle at the time of the accident.
- On average, one person dies from an alcohol-related accident every 51 minutes.
Now look what happens around the holidays:
- In Los Angeles County alone, 41 people died over the 2013 New Year’s holiday weekend.
- 1,405 DUI arrests were made in Los Angeles County in 2013. 500 of these occurred over the 4th of July weekend.
- Another 529 DUI arrests were made in Los Angeles County over the Memorial Day weekend.
- According to a 10-year analysis by the Automobile Club of Southern California, alcohol-related accidents are 75% higher in Los Angeles County on SuperBowl Sunday than during the other Sundays in January and February. The 10-year average from 2002-2011 was 28 deaths per year.
- A national study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that over 100 people die every day across the country. Six of the top ten deadliest days are around holidays – July 2-4, Dec. 23, Jan. 1, and Sept. 2.
With numbers like that, it’s no surprise that patrols are trying to crack down on drunk driving during the holidays. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a beer or two if you’re planning to drive. Remember, the legal BAC limit in California is 0.08%. So, as long as you drink in moderation and allow some time between your last drink and getting behind the wheel, there’s no legal reason not to drive.
I’ve found a really helpful tool for those of you who aren’t sure what a reasonable amount of alcohol might be. This blood calculator will help you determine if you are in danger of being over the legal BAC limit. It is based on your weight and number and type of drinks consumed over a period of time. This site in no way guarantees that your BAC will be under the limit, it just gives you an estimate of where your BAC is likely to be.
Drinking and driving is a serious, potentially fatal decision. Plan ahead and assign a designated driver. This is the most responsible thing you can do – especially during the holidays. Keep yourself and your family safe so you can all get together for the next one!
By Ted Burgess