The 2020 Pennsylvania Crash Facts & Statistics report from PennDOT was recently released, highlighting the safety issues faced by motorists in our state. The 2020 holidays saw more than 5,000 car crashes, 44 of them fatal. Today, we want to focus on an issue that reaches its peak during the holiday season: alcohol-related crashes. 1 in 10 holiday crashes are due to alcohol use, but almost 1 in 3 fatalities are due to alcohol.
The majority of drunk driving crashes involved:
- Male drivers
- Drinking drivers between 21 and 30
- Passenger cars and motorcycles
- Saturday nights between 8 PM and 12 AM
Over 75% of passenger deaths happened to the passengers with the drinking driver, while fewer than 25% occurred to the passengers of other vehicles. Statistically, that means more passenger deaths could be prevented through having a designated driver than anything else.
Why Do Alcohol-Related Car Accidents Occur During the Holidays?
The most obvious answer to why alcohol-related crash rates increase during the winter holidays is that people drink more. But there’s more to it than that. Holidays are known to heighten people’s stress levels with higher levels of traffic, more obligations to fulfill, and inclement weather making it harder to get around. Stressful conditions lead to risk-taking behavior, which leads to more frequent car accidents.
Another factor is the increase in holiday deliveries. Companies like Amazon, FedEx, and UPS are all facing a holiday rush, which means each of them will have more of their fleet on the road than at any other moment in the year. The influx of inexperienced drivers will also lead to higher accident rates.
What Passengers & Family Members Can Do to Prevent Drunk Driving Accidents
While drunk driving accidents can happen to us through no fault of our own, there are certain measures we can take to prevent drunk driving accidents based on the statistics we have available to us. For instance, knowing that drunk driving accidents most often occur between 8PM and midnight on the weekends means we should drive extra defensively at those hours during the holidays.
Additionally, knowing that most drunk driving accidents happen to people in their 20s means we should be extra vigilant for our relatives and loved ones at that age. When people visit their hometowns for the holidays, reuniting with old friends often leads to drinking. As a result, people should make themselves available to pick up family members (or urge each other to use rideshare apps if they need to).