As we welcome this year’s holiday season, we prepare for an increase in family gatherings and embrace these last few months as a time to make memories that will last a lifetime. The dangers associated with the holiday season are often overlooked. Among the family parties and holiday dinners, there is also an increase of long road trips, alcohol consumption, and/or the use of illegal substances.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 10,497 deaths from alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in 2016.
Families often travel far distances by car to be able to enjoy the company of their loved ones during the holidays, which could bring about potentially dangerous circumstances. The roads become increasingly more congested with out of town visitors, many of whom have been behind the wheel for several hours without rest. Be aware of the following warning signs for “drowsy driving”:
- Yawning or blinking frequently
- Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven
- Missing your exit
- Drifting from your lane
- Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, pull over immediately so you are not endangering yourself or others. If possible, have another passenger continue the drive while you get adequate rest. Keeping hydrated throughout the duration of the trip and exposing yourself to fresh air is vital, however, it is not a solution. Turning up the radio and opening the window are not effective ways to keep you alert, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Family gatherings, especially holiday parties, are associated with alcohol consumption in higher quantities than normal. It is important to remember that is it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC that exceeds the legal limit of .08. When on the road, be alert to potential signs that another driver may be impaired:
- Failure to turn on their headlights
- Turning within an unusually wide radius
- Striking or almost striking other cars and/or objects
- Drifting, swerving, and weaving
- Driving at a speed significantly slower and or faster than the limit posted
Buzzed driving is drunk driving. To avoid such circumstances and to keep your holiday safe, here are a few guidelines that we suggest to ensure you are protected:
- Limit your alcohol consumption to the one-drink-per-hour rule if you plan to be operating a motor vehicle.
- Plan your trip with ample amount of time to take several breaks to rest and to avoid rushing.
- Be aware of the behavior of other drivers on the road while traveling.
- Consider alternative means for transportation and/or avoid traveling on said high risk days.