Thanksgiving doesn’t usually come to mind when we think of holidays and drunk driving. New Year’s Eve and July 4th Weekend, and perhaps Memorial Day weekend, are considered the times one is likely to encounter an impaired driver on the road. But the fact is, Thanksgiving is a more dangerous time to drive. And it has an added threat: today – the day before Thanksgiving – known as Blackout Wednesday.
It’s not a family holiday – more a celebration time for college students and other young people who are headed for a four-day break. Some bars rate Blackout Wednesday as the biggest night for parties in the year. It has become associated with binge drinking: bars gear up for the night by laying on extra stocks of booze, by hosting special events, and, if they are conscientious, by posting information to help drunk customers get home by taxi.
Binge drinking, by the way, is defined as five or more drinks in a sitting for men, and four for women.
One reason that heavy drinking is more likely tonight is that students have arrived home, and are generally free of responsibilities for a few days. It’s also a chance to see relatives and old friends that one hasn’t seen all semester. Some of the students have just reached legal drinking age. The result is an attempt to make up for drinking times lost. Four days, they feel, gives them plenty of time to sober up.
And from that drinking comes an increase in drunk driving. You might know that Thanksgiving signals the beginning of the most dangerous season on the roads. From then alcohol-related crash numbers stay high until New Year’s Day.
If you are coming home for the holidays, have a great time. Enjoy these days with your family and friends, fill up on food, and yes, enjoy your drinks. But do these as well:
- Plan your night tonight. It could be as easy as taking a taxi to the bar instead of driving, so you’ll have to do the same when coming home. Alternatively:
- Have a designated driver with you. Or:
- Have a non-drinking friend drop you at the bar and pick you up later. If need be, promise to return the favor.
- Watch out on the roads. Not everyone will have read this and taken the words to heart. And above all:
- Don’t let a friend drive drive drunk. Take their keys. Or call them a taxi.
And remember that for you, the most dangerous day of the year is the one when you choose to drink and drive.