Drunk driving is a leading cause of car accidents in the United States. In fact, one person is killed in a DUI accident every 51 minutes. Unfortunately, as the winter holiday season approaches, the risk of being involved in a DUI accident is much greater.
Why? Roads are more congested as families travel for the holidays. Many people also report that they tend to drink more during the holiday season. These are both factors that increase the risk of an accident. When these factors coincide, as they do around Christmas, Hannukah, and New Year’s, accidents tend to happen more frequently.
Holiday DUI Arrests Have Increased in California
According to the NHTSA, there’s been a significant decline in the number of drunk driving fatalities in recent years. In the past three decades, drunk driving deaths have dropped by one-third. This may seem to indicate that there are fewer drunk drivers on the road. On a typical day, this may be true. However, California traffic and arrest statistics indicate that there are actually more drunk drivers on the road, especially around the holidays.
In 2016, California police arrested 621 drivers on suspicion of DUI between 6 PM on December 22nd and 11:59 PM on December 25th. In 2017, the number of DUI arrests during this same enforcement period increased by nearly 48 percent. At least 27 people were also killed while traveling on California roads in this short period of time.
Are there really more drunk drivers on the road, or are police just making more arrests? It’s hard to tell. However, officers have noted that the increase is “troubling” and that the agency doesn’t have an explanation for the surge in arrests. Police enforcement hasn’t increased, but arrests have. This tends to indicate that there are simply more drunk drivers on the road during the holiday season.
Keeping Yourself Safe While Traveling During the Holidays
You have very little control over the actions of others. There’s no guarantee that roads will be free of drunk, buzzed, or drugged drivers this holiday season. Fortunately, you can control your own actions and behaviors. There are several things you can do to keep yourself safe and minimize your risk of an accident.
Travel During the Day: Accidents, particularly those involving drunk drivers, tend to happen after dark. In Orange County, approximately 10 percent of all traffic accidents happen between the hours of 9 PM and 3 AM. You can reduce the risk of an accident with a drunk driver if you travel to and from your destinations while it’s still light out.
Take Public Transportation: Public transportation, including trains and buses, are a great way to travel during the holidays. You don’t have to fight traffic or worry about getting behind the wheel if you’ve had a drink or two. Since trains and buses are classified as common carriers, drivers and operators have an increased duty to keep you safe. They’ll be required to do everything they can to get you to your destination unharmed.
Request an Uber or Lyft: If you’re going to drink, think twice before getting behind the wheel. Thanks to recent advances in technology, the way we are able to travel has transformed. You can simply request a ride with a few taps of your fingers. Taking an Uber or Lyft doesn’t mean that you won’t be involved in an accident. However, if you’ve been drinking, it significantly decreases the risk. Studies show that buzzed driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Using a rideshare service after you’ve had a drink or two will keep roads safer for you and everyone else.
Consider an Extended Holiday: Drunk driving accidents tend to increase as the calendar approaches a major holiday. Rather than traveling on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, consider extending your holiday by a few days. Drive to your intended destination early and leave a few days after the holiday is over. This can help to keep you off the road when they’re most likely to be congested and filled with drivers who’ve had too much to drink.
What Can I Do If I’m Injured in a Car Accident This Holiday Season?
A car accident can still happen, despite your best efforts to avoid one. If someone else is at least partially responsible, you may have the right to seek compensation. The money you receive from a lawsuit or insurance settlement can help to cover medical bills, make up for lost income and wages, and compensate for any emotional distress you’ve experienced. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer will put you in the best position to maximize your financial award.
Have you been injured in an Orange County car accident? Contact the Law Offices of John Rapillo for help. Our personal injury attorneys will review your case and help you understand your legal options. We’re here to help you get the money you deserve, so don’t hesitate to call for help today.