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Avoiding car accidents on Thanksgiving weekend

November 23, 2010 by Steven M. Gursten

Auto accident attorney gives tips to keep you safe during Michigan’s “biggest bar night of the year”

The night before Thanksgiving is the “biggest bar night of the year” in Michigan. Take a look at most bars and restaurants, and you’ll see them packed with people seeing old friends (which is great), and starting their holiday with lots of alcohol (not so great).

Look, I’m not trying to ruin your fun, but please drink responsibly. For the past 16 years, I’ve seen, as an auto accident attorney, the life-altering consequences that arise from the Wednesday through Saturday of Thanksgiving. There will sadly be catastrophic car accidents at the hands of drunk drivers, and people will be senselessly injured and killed in dozens of completely avoidable crashes, due to poor judgment and alcohol.

I’m not picking on a particular school in Lansing, (even though I went to the “other” school in Ann Arbor), but many of these drunk driving car accidents this weekend will be caused by younger drivers and drivers home from college. Young drivers have a sense of immortality, and that leads to poor judgment. Thanksgiving is special for seeing and renewing friendships. Don’t let too much alcohol and the decision to drink and drive make it tragic instead.

Michigan statistics: Drunk driving car accidents causing fatalities and personal injuries

Michigan’s 2009 Drunk Driving Audit by the Michigan State Police (the latest statistics available) reports that although Michigan’s population has declined, alcohol-related fatal crashes remain a significant traffic safety issue, with approximately 40 percent of the total fatal crashes involving alcohol and/or drugs.

Traffic deaths resulting from alcohol and/or drug-related car accidents in Michigan decreased from 379 in 2008 to 351 in 2009. However, the number of people injured in car accidents involving alcohol and drugs increased – from 6,248 in 2008 to 6,271 in 2009.

And, according to a 2010 State Progress Report from MADD, Michigan ranked No. 13 in the amount of deaths and fatalities involving drunk drivers. According to MADD: Michigan has 28.2 percent drunk driving fatalities.

The report, which is based on federal data, says MADD has been working diligently in Michigan since the campaign began to get stronger interlock legislation, but the Legislature still has not enacted. Interlock legislation refers to a penalty for drunk driving in which an ignition interlock device is installed into the offender’s vehicle dashboard. It works like a Breathalyzer – you breathe into the device and it measures your Breath Alcohol Content (often referred to as BAC). If your BAC is over a certain amount, the vehicle will not start.

Safe driving info for Thanksgiving weekend, from your Michigan auto accident attorneys

Keep in mind, the severity of personal injuries for drivers and passengers in car accidents where drinking is involved is much worse. Here are some tips to keep you safe this Thanksgiving weekend (especially the night before Thanksgiving), so you can enjoy your holiday happily and peacefully.

o Have a reliable designated driver: Drunk driving is illegal. There are severe legal consequences for drunk driving, not to mention you can injure or kill somebody. Designate someone who is willing to stay sober, or arrange to have a friend pick you up once the night is through. You can also call a cab or contact a local organization that offers free rides.

o Be responsible: If you are 21, the legal drinking age in Michigan, the night before Thanksgiving can be ideal for catching up with friends. But you don’t want to consume so much that you end up drunk. Be responsible about how much alcohol you drink. Try to eat, stay hydrated (with water) and switch between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Know your limits and stick to them.

o Beware of drunk drivers on the road: The Michigan State Police say that midnight to 3 a.m. has the highest rate of fatal crashes caused by people who have been drinking. Try and stay off the roads during the hours when drunk drivers are most likely out. And if you must be on the road, whether as a driver or passenger, be aware of your surroundings. This includes taking into account the other vehicles on the roads, your speed, the weather conditions, your safety belt and the avoidance of distracted driving.

Steve Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top car accident lawyers handling serious personal injury cases. He frequently blogs about safe driving. Michigan Auto Law has received the largest reported jury verdict for an automobile accident case in Michigan in six of the past nine years, including 2009, according to published reports.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by controltheweb

Related information:

Avoiding car accidents in Michigan – safe driving techniques

Explicit texting-while-driving PSA

A safety ap to reduce drunk driving and crashes in Michigan?

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with an auto accident attorney. We can help.

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