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Fatal car accidents are 4X more likely at night in December

December 17, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

Follow these safety tips to help protect yourself from a  drunk driving car accident this holiday season


Fatal car accidents involving drunk drivers are nearly 4 times higher at night than during the day in the month of December, which also marks another annual National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.  This comes from the latest crash and wrongful death statistics available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for 2015.

This is also sadly consistent with what our own injury attorneys see each December, as the holidays bring about parties and celebrations — and lots of drinking and driving.

The Michigan State Police reported that over the 2015 Christmas holiday, for example, there were six auto accident fatalities. The holiday hours were measured between 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve to 11:59 p.m. on December 27, 2015.

And data from the NHTSA shows that any decision to drive while impaired can also have serious and even deadly consequences. Nationally in 2015, 35,092 people were killed in car and truck accidents, and 29%(10,265) died in crashes where the driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the limit of .08.

From 2011-15, 14,034 people lost their lives in car accidents during the month of December, and 28% (3,983) died in a crash that involved a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher.

The simple lesson we can take from all of this is to stay extra alert and practice defensive driving if you choose to go out instead of staying at home during the holidays, especially at night, when there are more drunk drivers on the roads.

If you opt to party hop, plan your sober ride and make a commitment not to get behind the wheel — not even after just one or two drinks.  For many people, just one drink immediately before getting behind the wheel can caused “buzzed driving.” And as the Michigan State Police commercials remind us, “buzzed driving is drunk driving” under Michigan law.

If the possibility of a fatal car accident isn’t enough to deter you, know that Michigan law enforcement will be amping up their patrols during the month of December (starting December 16), during the NHTSA’s annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” safety blitz.

Drunk driving offenders often serve jail time, lose their driver’s license, are charged higher insurance rates, and pay dozens of other unanticipated expenses ranging from attorney fees, court costs, car towing and repairs, and lost wages due to time off from work.

But the ultimate price for any drunk driving car accident is when a drunk driver’s recklessness causes an innocent person to be catastrophically injured or killed.

Holiday season safety tips

Follow these tips to stay safe on the road this holiday season:

  • If you’re having cocktails, plan on having someone else drive you home. Plan your safe ride home before you start the party. Designate a sober driver ahead of time.
  • If you become intoxicated, do not drive for any reason. Call an Uber or Lyft, a taxi,  phone a sober friend or family member, use public transportation You can also try NHTSA’s SaferRider mobile app, which allows users to call a taxi or friend and identify their location so they can be picked up.
  • Don’t let your drunk friends get behind the wheel. Take their keys, take them home, or help them arrange a safe way home.
  • Call 9-1-1 if you see a drunk driver on the road. Your actions could help save someone’s life. Not that calling 9-1-1 will get the proper law enforcement out to find the drunk driver. May people mistakenly call the Michigan State Police, which delays the enforcement.

For more safety tips, here are some holiday safety blog posts I’ve written from years past:

3 tips to safeguard your holiday parties

Our Michigan Auto Law holiday gift guide to safe driving

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