Drunk drivers turn holidays into tragedies

Residents in and around Cass County, Missouri, should be aware that drunk driving dangers can increase during the holidays.

People who live in Cass County, Missouri, are aware that people who choose to drink and drive are serious risks on the roads every day. Other motorists and their passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists alike can all become victims of drunk driving accidents.

Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlight the extent of the dangers presented by impaired drivers. Details show the following for the state of Missouri:

  • In 2013, 248 people died in drunk driving accidents.
  • In 2012, 283 people died in drunk driving accidents.
  • In 2011, 258 people died in drunk driving accidents.
  • In 2010, 257 people died in drunk driving accidents.
  • In 2009, 302 people died in drunk driving accidents.

In Cass County, 16 lives were lost at the hands of drunk drivers between 2009 and 2013. Of those deaths, seven occurred in 2013 and five occurred in 2012.

In nearby Jackson County, the number of fatalities for each of those five years ranged between 27 and 37. Johnson County experienced 20 impaired driving deaths in that timeframe. In Lafayette, Henry and Bates Counties, seven, five and four people died, respectively.

Everyday risks increase during the holidays

According to BACtrack.com, during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day each year, there is an increase in the number of people who are arrested for drunk driving. On the National Safety Council's list of the six most deadly holidays due to drunk driving, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's all appear.

One factor that can influence how deadly a particular holiday may be is the presence of a full weekend. Thanksgiving always spans a whole weekend as the Friday is considered a holiday as well. This year, Christmas and New Year's will also span complete weekends which could increase the risk of being involved in a drunk driving accident.

NHTSA data confirm the risk

The NHTSA took their drunk driving fatality records from five consecutive holiday seasons, starting in 2001 and ending in 2005 to see how they compared to the rest of the year. The increase in drunk driving deaths was marked.

On dates in the year not associated with the Christmas or New Year's holidays, the average daily number of drunk driving fatalities was 28. On dates associated with the Christmas holidays, the average daily number of drunk driving fatalities was 45. On dates associated with the New Year's holidays, the average daily number of drunk driving fatalities was 54.

Victims deserve help

Despite many anti-drunk driving campaigns, clearly the problem persists. It is important for anyone involved in a drunk driving accident to get help promptly. Calling an attorney should be done by either the victim or a relative.