The holiday season is approaching rapidly, along with all of the travel that takes place from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. This time of year, it’s more important than ever to stay safe while making your way to holiday festivities.

Holiday revelry – including alcohol consumption – along with increased traffic and possible winter weather can complicate holiday travel. Deaths from car accidents caused by drunk driving spike during the season.

A recent phenomenon is the so-called “Blackout Wednesday” – when some college students and some young professionals drink to excess on the day before Thanksgiving because they don’t have school or work the next day. Many of these young people are visiting their hometowns for the holiday.

This trend may put impaired drivers on roadways already crowded with holiday traffic. Even if those who participate in “Blackout Wednesday” don’t drive until the next day, they are likely to be tired or not at their best after drinking so much the night before.

For many people, drinking alcohol is a part of Thanksgiving Day celebrations, and many drinkers may get behind the wheel while still impaired.

Alcohol-Related Fatal Crashes Spike During Holidays

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the number of people killed in drunk driving accidents rises 30 percent during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend – including “Blackout Wednesday”–compared with the rest of the year.

MADD and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also reported that in 2012, 134 people died in drunk driving crashes between December 21 and 26, and 140 were killed in these accidents over the New Year’s holiday.

In a story about “Blackout Wednesday,” Myrtle Beach’s WBTW News 13 reported that 10 people died in car accidents in South Carolina during the 2012 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

These statistics underscore the need for vigilance while driving throughout the holiday season, including avoiding drinking and driving by having a designated driver or calling a cab when you have had too much to drink.

Tips for Safe Holiday Travels

Other safe driving tips for the holiday season include:

  • Follow the rules of the road, including obeying the speed limit and traffic signs.
  • Avoid driving while distracted.
  • Allow extra time for traffic delays, in particular on big travel days such as the day before Thanksgiving and December 23.
  • Make sure you are well rested before getting behind the wheel. On long trips, make stops to take a break and switch drivers.
  • Get your car checked out before a road trip, making sure fluid levels are good and tires are in good condition and have the proper air pressure.
  • Take precautions for any winter weather you might encounter. Coastal South Carolina usually doesn’t get a lot of snow, but it can get cold and icy. Remember that bridges and overpasses freeze before the main roadway. When headed to colder climates, make sure your car has the proper tires and keep a cold weather emergency kit in the car.

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