By Howard Ankin
Ankin Law Office, Chicago, Ill.
Although a DUI crash can occur at anytime, some days of the year are riskier than others. Major spikes in the number of DUI crashes are seen during times of celebration; mainly surrounding holidays and during the summer months when an increased number of drivers take the wheel.
While the number of DUI crash fatalities has decreased by almost 50 percent since 1980, impaired driving is still a major concern on America’s roadways. In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that about 28.7 million individuals admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol in 2013. While more than 300,000 impaired driving instances occur every day, only 3,200 violators are arrested. Nearly one-third of those are repeat offenders.
With such a high number of impaired drivers on the road, it’s not surprising that two out of three Americans will be involved in a DUI crash during some point of their lives, and about every two minutes, someone will be seriously injured. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 9,967 individuals lost their lives to DUI crashes in 2014. That averages out to about 27 DUI deaths per day- one every 53 minutes. It is estimated that another 290,000 people were injured in accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver that same year.
The Most Dangerous Times of the Year for DUIs
Motorists are at the highest risk of becoming involved in a DUI crash during:
- The Summer Months: The NHTSA reports that nearly twice the number of individuals are killed in alcohol-related crashes during the summer months than at all other times of year combined. One reason summertime is riskier is that younger people are out of school and have more time on their hands to drink. According to the Illinois Secretary of State, 17 percent of all DUI fatalities involve drivers under the age of 21.
- Fourth of July: Independence Day is consistently ranked as one of the deadliest days of the year for DUI crashes. According to the NHTSA, during the Fourth of July travel periods between 2007 and 2011, impaired driving accounted for 61 deaths each day. Additionally, more than half of all motor vehicle crashes that occur during the Independence Day holiday are alcohol-related.
- Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving weekend is the most traveled holiday period of the year, and it is also one of the deadliest for DUI crashes. During the Thanksgiving holiday period in 2010, which includes “Blackout Wednesday” and the weekend following Thanksgiving, 174 individuals lost their lives in alcohol-related car crashes. That is equal to 40 percent of all traffic crash fatalities during that period.
- New Year’s Day: In 2010, nearly half (42 percent) of all crash fatalities that occurred during the New Year’s Day travel period involved an impaired driver. While the New Year’s Day holiday period consistently ranks among the worst for DUI crashes, the number of incidents varies significantly depending on whether the holiday falls on a weekend or during mid-week.
- Christmas Day: In 2012, there were 351 traffic fatalities during the Christmas travel period. Approximately 35 percent of those involved at least one alcohol-impaired driver. Like New Year’s Day, the number of DUI deaths increases significantly on years when the holiday falls on the weekend.
- Labor Day and Memorial Day: Since individuals are already at a higher risk for becoming involved in a DUI crash over the weekend, the fact that Labor Day and Memorial Day celebrations surround Saturdays and Sundays makes these holidays even more dangerous. In 2010, the NHTSA reports that 147 individuals lost their lives to DUI crashes on Labor Day weekend alone, accounting for approximately 36 percent of all crash fatalities during that time.
Other Dangerous Times for DUI Crashes
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), individuals are more likely to become involved in DUI crashes during the month of August than any other time of the year. September and July rank second and third as the deadliest months. Additionally, with more alcohol-impaired drivers on the road than any other day of the week, Saturday is the riskiest for DUI crashes. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that approximately 31 percent of DUI fatalities occur on the weekend, and fatal crashes are four times more likely during the night, when a higher number of alcohol impaired individuals get behind the wheel.
Motorists aren’t the only ones at risk for death or serious injury due to an intoxicated driver. Pedestrians are in danger as well. According to the CDC, pedestrians are more likely to be killed in crashes during the weekend, and nearly half of pedestrian deaths are alcohol related.
About the Author
Howard Ankin is in private practice. He can be reached at 10 N Dearborn St., Ste 500, Chicago, IL 60602 312-600-0000