Many people experience a decrease in their overall mood during the winter months. Shorter days and changing weather patterns may make people more irritable. Therefore, when an opportunity to celebrate and raise one’s spirits arises, people are often eager to make use of it.
Colder-season holidays, beginning with Halloween, result in safety concerns that people need to recognize if they want to keep themselves and their loved ones as safe as possible. Drunk driving, in particular, is a concern when people get together and celebrate with alcohol. Autumn and winter celebrations often contribute to more crashes occurring and, therefore, more enforcement efforts on the part of local police departments.
What the statistics show
All of the major national holidays result in a statistical increase in fatal drunk driving crashes. Crashes overall increase, but so does the number of collisions caused by chemical impairment. On average, 37% of the fatal wrecks that occur on holidays involve alcohol. Christmas actually sees a slightly lower increase in drunk driving crash fatalities, but Thanksgiving sees a more significant increase. Halloween does not report as big of an increase in overall collisions, but there is a surge in pedestrian crashes. Many pedestrian crashes involve either a motorist or a pedestrian who is under the influence of alcohol, sometimes both.
South Carolina ranks 13th in the nation for the number of fatal winter holiday crashes, at least based on the number of reported drunk driving fatalities on Christmas and Thanksgiving between 2010 and 2018. Given that these trends are well known, police departments will often have more presence on the road both on the days of actual holidays and on the weekends right before or after major holidays.
Drivers are at elevated risk of targeted enforcement efforts and also sobriety checkpoints near the holidays. Making alternate arrangements for transportation or lodging could help someone avoid a scenario in which they feel compelled to drive after leaving a party and then end up facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges.
Learning about when enforcement efforts will be at their peak can help people protect themselves from arrest and prosecution.