GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Studies show Thanksgiving is the deadliest holiday, so all this week, 9 On Your Side is taking a look at the reasons why to help ensure safety, including the dangers of drinking and driving.
Millions of drivers are hitting the roads to travel for Thanksgiving, but many may not know the potential danger on those roads, much of it coming from drunk drivers.
Wednesday is referred to as “Blackout Wednesday” because of how many people drink alcohol on Thanksgiving eve.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were more car-related deaths on Thanksgiving Day in 2012 than any other day of the year. Many were attributed to drunk driving.
DUI arrests are highest between the day before Thanksgiving and New Years. During that period last year, there were more than 970 drunk driving deaths.
“It’s such a good time of year and to see it ruined by somebody making a careless decision to go out and drink and not be responsible to get home ruins that for somebody,” said Greenville police Sgt. Mike Montanye, a board member for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “Not only for the family, it’s for the family of the person who made that bad driving decision.”
In 2010, MADD found 40 percent of all highway deaths happened between Thanksgiving eve and the following weekend.
Local law enforcement officers warn alcohol stays in one’s system for several hours, so it could still be unsafe to drive the morning after drinking.
“If you’re with somebody and you know that they should not be driving and that they’re going to take that chance to drive, talk them out of it,” said Montanye. “Find some reason. Make arrangements for them. Don’t get into a confrontation with them about it, but see if you can do something to help them get home or some alternative way to get from where they are to where they’re going so that they don’t have to drink and drive.”
MADD is now launching its annual holiday campaign where drivers tie a red ribbon to their cars, encouraging people to plan a designated driver ahead of time. Law enforcement officers are also stepping up patrols.