As we kick off the holidays with Thanksgiving, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is reminding adults to plan ahead for a safe way home if they’re planning to drink alcohol during the season’s festivities. Data show that the time period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day includes some of the most dangerous days for drunk driving deaths, and the numbers are getting worse in recent years — as annual drunk driving deaths have decreased, there has been an increase in the proportion of drunk driving deaths around the holidays. In addition, there’s a troubling trend of drunk driving fatalities in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Thursday, following what’s becoming known as “Blackout Wednesday,” a time when people who are home for the holiday are choosing to celebrate with excessive amounts of alcohol.
The proportion of people killed in drunk driving crashes (.08 BAC and above) over the Thanksgiving holiday spiked by 30 percent in 2010 compared to the rest of the year. Additionally, the number of drunk driving deaths increased by 24 percent compared with the year prior. Below are further details about fatalities over the holiday in recent years:
Thanksgiving Holiday (includes “Blackout Wednesday” and the weekend following Thanksgiving)
2010*: 174 people killed (40 percent of highway deaths)
2009: 140 people killed (34 percent of highway deaths)
2008: 180 people killed (35 percent of highway deaths)
“These numbers are very concerning to MADD because the number of people killed in drunk driving crashes over Thanksgiving is up, along with the percentage of highway deaths caused by drunk driving during the holiday period,” said MADD National President Jan Withers. “Drunk driving is a complex problem, but the solution is simple: plan ahead for a sober designated driver if you’re going to drink alcohol.”
MADD’s Tie One On For Safety red ribbon campaign, now in its 26th year, is the organization’s signature public awareness project and is sponsored by National Presenting Sponsor Nationwide Insurance. Drivers across the country display MADD red ribbons on their vehicles as a pledge to drive safe and sober. The ribbons also signify support for law enforcement officers, who will be out in force as part of the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.
“During a time of year when some may choose to ‘tie one on’ in celebration of the holidays, MADD and Nationwide encourage drivers to Tie One On For Safety by displaying a red ribbon as a visible reminder to keep our roads safe,” said Bill Windsor, Nationwide Insurance Associate Vice President of Consumer Safety. “It’s about setting an example for your friends and family, co-workers and neighbors — if you drink, don’t drive.”