Every holiday season, there is a dangerous uptick in impaired driving, specifically drunk and drugged driving. And, with the stress and anxiety of COVID-19 added to the traditional holiday experience, more and more people will get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Drunk driving accounts for nearly one-third of vehicle-related fatalities in the United States — and December is one of the most prevalent months for driving under the influence with Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve among the most dangerous holidays. While drunk driving deaths typically represent around a third of all traffic fatalities, in 2018 that increased to nearly 50 percent on December 24 and December 31. And, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that during the month of December 2017, 885 people lost their lives in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver.
And, according to StopDruggedDriving.org, 20 percent of crashes in the country are caused by drivers under the influence of drugs. Drugged drivers cause approximately 440,000 injuries, 6,761 deaths, and $59.9 billion in damages per year.
With the impacts of COVID-19 expected to heighten rates of drunk and drugged driving in 2020, those troubling statistics are expected to increase as medical services and first responders continue to be overstretched as their attention is overwhelmed with those sick with the virus.
Seasonal Binge Drinking
With alcohol playing a large role in holiday gatherings, the temptation to overindulge is also prevalent. In fact, a study by DrinkingandDriving.org found that 90 percent of all drunk driving occurs after drinking with family, friends and coworkers — a hallmark of holiday celebrations. It is important to remember that a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent is considered legally impaired. Still, alcohol can start to affect the senses after only one drink.
During the holidays, binge drinking renders a dangerous and often deadly series of risk factors. People drink more, there are more cars out on the road, more people driving in the dark and late at night, and, in wintry weather.
Regardless of the time of year, binge drinking carries serious health risks and can cause many health problems. The CDC reports that excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years. The same report showed excessive drinking was responsible for one in 10 deaths among working adults aged 20-64 years.
Sober Holiday Resources
For people in recovery from addiction and for those ready to celebrate the holiday safely and soberly, having a plan in place to manage potential triggers to consume alcohol or other substances can help you enjoy the holidays in a safe, healthy way.
If you or someone you know may have a problem with alcohol or other drugs, the addiction experts at Valley Hope can provide a free level of care screening to determine if you require clinical treatment. Because addiction remains a public health crisis in America, Valley Hope provides an essential public health service and continues to welcome new patients at each of our 19 treatment centers with medical detox services, residential treatment, online outpatient treatment and virtual recovery support programs.
We know that the dangers of addiction dramatically increase in the face of heightened anxiety, stress and isolation. That’s why our team of treatment experts stand ready to provide help and healing for alcohol misuse in a safe, compassionate environment.
For immediate help 24/7, call the Valley Hope Patient Access Center at (800) 544-5101.
With extensive precautions in place, Valley Hope is continuously working with public health officials, staff, communities and partners to ensure safety and remain open to new patients.