Assessing holiday drinking and driving risks in Chicago

Every year warnings are issued about the risks associated with drinking and driving during the holiday season. This year is no different and all Chicago area residents should take the time now to educate themselves about just how real this risk actually is. An accident involving a drunk driver can change lives in an instant by causing serious injuries or even death.

Holiday tragedies

On the CyberDriveIllinois.com website, data shows the risk of drunk driving accidents associated with the holiday dates for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. In 2011, half of all deaths in fatal accidentsover Thanksgiving were attributed to the presence of alcohol. Only the Fourth of July had a higher rate of death from accidents impacted by impaired drivers.

For Christmas and New Year, 38 and 33 percent of all vehicular fatalities resulted from drunk driving crashes. Between those three holidays that year, 12 people lost their lives in Illinois due to the actions of drunk drivers.

The numbers from 2011 are not representative of a new trend. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration archives show a longtime problem with holiday drinking and driving. In comparing 25 non-holiday days during December to specific holiday days in the same month over a period spanning 2001 to 2005 a definite increase in deaths attributed to drinking and driving is seen. For the non-holiday days, 28 percent of all accident fatalities involved alcohol. For the holiday days, 40 percent of all accident fatalities involved alcohol.

In December of 2005, 34 people died in drunk driving accidents per day on average over non-holiday days. Over the Christmas days, that number rose to 46 deaths per day and over the days attributed to New Year's, 55 people died on average per day due to drunk driving accidents.

Illinois and drunk driving

Mothers Against Drunk Driving records show that 34 percent of all automotive fatalities in 2012 in Illinois happened as the result of impaired driving accidents. That number represents a 15 percent increase over the prior year. NHTSA statistics report that out of 956 total statewide vehicular deaths in 2012 321 involved alcohol. In Cook County, 89 out of 270 such deaths involved alcohol.

Per CyberDriveIllinois.com, the country's rate of vehicular deaths due to alcohol in 2011 was 36 percent of all deaths. In Illinois, the number was higher with 38 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities involving alcohol. The site also indicates that nearly 39,000 drunk driving arrests are made in the state every year.

Action is important

Motorists and family members must always be willing to seek help after any accident. Even if no fatality results, compensation is necessary and legal help is an important way of receiving that.