CINCINNATI, Oh. (November 22, 2017)—More cars on the roads for the Thanksgiving holiday, potentially means more crashes. As families prepare to give thanks, AAA is warning motorists about “Blackout Wednesday”—the day before Thanksgiving Day which is a particularly bad day for alcohol and drug-related fatal crashes. In addition, it is unofficially known as one of the days of the year with the highest level of alcohol consumption or binge drinking by college students who are home for the holiday.
“Driving while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol is a recipe for disaster and ‘Blackout Wednesday’ is one of the most dangerous times for overindulgence,” says Jenifer Moore, AAA spokeswoman. “With more than 90 percent of Ohio holiday travelers driving to their destinations, everyone on the road must be aware of the dangers of impaired driving.”
This year, AAA projects that 45.5 million Americans will travel by car to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. That estimate includes 1,892,810 Ohio area residents.
Data from the Ohio Department of Public Safety shows that in 2016 there were 12,243 alcohol-related crashes, causing 5,076 injuries and 346 deaths on Ohio roads. During the 5-day Thanksgiving holiday period last year there were 3,663 crashes resulting in 1,213 injuries and 9 deaths. Alcohol was involved in nearly half (4) of those killed during the holiday period.
Law enforcement officials and traffic safety advocates cite three overarching factors in the spike in DUI/DWI-related traffic crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend:
- Heavy traffic. Thanksgiving Day is actually a heavier long-distance travel day than Wednesday.
- During the holidays 45 people are killed by intoxicated motorists per day, compared to an average of 28 each day during other times of the year.
- The numerous bar crawls and reunion celebrations that happen when college students are home for the holiday.
“Thanksgiving Eve is one of the biggest bar nights of the year with many bars staging “Fall Crawl” and “Gobble Wobble” for pre-Thanksgiving partiers,” continued Moore.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), more drunk drivers are out on the road on ‘Blackout Wednesday’, and the holiday has surpassed New Year’s for the highest number alcohol-impaired driving deaths.
With the usage of marijuana, heroin and prescription drugs as new emerging factors in highway safety during the holiday, motorists are encouraged to consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic, keep their eyes on the road and scan left to right for unusual behavior from other motorists.
AAA offers the following additional tips to stay safe on Thanksgiving Eve:
- Make a plan for how you will get home before consuming alcohol. Designate a safe and sober driver before the party begins.
- If you don’t have a designated driver, plan to call a cab or a ride share, or use public transportation.
- Never let friends drive if they have had too much alcohol to drink.
- Walking impaired can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Designate a sober friend to walk you home.
AAA works year-round to educate the public on the dangers of impaired driving in an effort to reduce traffic-related crashes and injuries.
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Ohio. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.