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Holidays Bring Deadly Increase in Drunk Driving

More than any other time of year, the holiday season brings with it a host of parties and gatherings. From small family get-togethers to mandatory work functions, from glitzy New Year’s galas to neighborhood cookie exchanges, most of us will be socializing a lot more. With these parties often comes not just a banquet of rich foods, but a bevy of drinks -- wine with dinner, a champagne toast, and that seemingly innocuous punch or eggnog that actually packs a wallop. But an unfortunate side effect of all this holiday cheer is that more people are driving under the influence. It is helpful, therefore, to be aware of some facts that may help you and your loved ones avoid a tragedy this holiday season.

Even normally responsible drinkers are more likely this time of year to make the terrible decision to drive while impaired. Some may be intoxicated above the legal limit, while many are driving legally but still with the diminished judgment and reflexes just a few drinks can bring. The facts don’t lie: approximately 40% of all crash-related fatalities that occur between Christmas and New Year’s involve drivers impaired by alcohol. This is a significant increase from the rest of December, when the average rate is approximately 28%. The data, compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), also showed that an average of 430 people are killed and 24,000 injured as a result of alcohol-related crashes during this time period each year.

What can one do to avoid being involved in such an accident? The best answer is to never drink and drive. Don’t assume because you are under the legal limit, that you have the attention and reflexes required for safe driving. But often, those injured or killed in a drunk-driving accident were simply victims. While nothing is ever foolproof, there are some steps you can take to better avoid being the victim of a drunk driver.

Never get into the car with someone who has been drinking. More importantly, protect yourself from it even becoming an option. When planning an excursion where someone else will drive, ask yourself if the situation is safe. Can you be completely certain the person who will be driving will not begin drinking? Do you feel safe or comfortable asking them not to drink? If they do drink, how does this person respond when intoxicated to requests to not drive? If you have any lingering doubts, drive yourself or take public transportation.

Avoid driving at night: statistics show that fatal crashes involving drunk drivers occur four times more at night than during the day. Also, 31% of crashes that occurred during the weekend involved a drunk driver versus 16% during the weekday. If you must drive during these higher risk periods, try to avoid being on the road after midnight and choose routes on well-maintained roads.

If you see someone driving erratically, don’t hesitate to get out of there way. It’s far better to be behind a drunk driver than in their path. If behind them, maintain a larger distance than normal. Also, always report any driver you suspect of being under the influence. And if you or someone you know has been injured by a drunk driver, contact an Illinois personal injury lawyer who can assist you.

About the Author: Brooke Haley is a Marketing Associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation attorney that practice in the areas of Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts in the State of Illinois. For more information about Illinois workers compensation lawyer,please visit www.millonpeskin.com.

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