December is a month of holiday-related parties and festive gatherings, with alcohol consumption a common trait. That is why for almost 40 years December has been deemed “National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.” This year’s holiday celebrations may be muted because of COVID-19. But that does not in any way diminish the very real and present danger of drunk driving and drivers under the influence of drugs.
In June the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its most recent report on fatal drunk-driving crashes in Missouri and the other 49 states. Some of the key findings from that 2018 data overview (“State Alcohol-Impaired-Driving Estimates”):
· 10,511 people died in drunk-driving crashes – 29% of all those who died in traffic accidents that year
· There were just over 10,000 drivers legally under the influence of alcohol involved in fatal car crashes in 2018. That’s about 19% of all drivers involved in deadly wrecks.
Fatal Drunk Driving Crashes in Missouri
In Missouri for 2018:
· 26% of all Missouri’s deaths from car crashes involved a drunk driver – one who had a blood alcohol content of at least .08
· 17% of all Missouri’s deaths from car crashes involved a drunk driver who tested nearly twice that legal limit or higher
The NHTSA report included a comparison to 2009 data, and Missouri showed some improvement in reducing fatal drunk-driving crashes with the 2018 numbers.
Will this December, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, pose a lesser threat from drunk drivers? That remains to be seen.
But one coronavirus comparison may be illuminating.
Earlier this year the media reported a notable uptick in Missouri’s fatal car crashes. In May, for example, the number of people killed in Missouri in car accidents was up 5% compared to the same month in 2019.
Missouri’s Speeding Drivers
At the same time, other media reports focused on a large spike in speeding drivers in Missouri. The increase was linked to the number of drivers – or lack thereof – due to COVID-19 restrictions. More people working from home, or not working at all, equate to fewer drivers overall but apparently more drivers who are carelessly speeding.
There may a similar dispatch of safe-driving behaviors during December’s holiday gatherings, even despite the coronavirus public health threat. Which brings us back to observing December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, nearly half of all traffic deaths on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve 2018 involved a drunk driver. To combat drunk-driving crashes in 2020, MADD urges people this December to:
· Designate someone at a party as a non-drinking driver – before the celebration begins
· If hosting a holiday party, serve “mocktails” and non-alcoholic beer
· Hosts should provide alternative transportation or overnight accommodations to drivers who have been driving
Much has changed since the pandemic hit. But the potentially fatal consequences of recklessly getting behind the wheel after drinking have not.
If you lost a loved one in a crash caused by an overserved drunk driver, speak with a personal injury attorney about your legal rights to just compensation from all negligent parties.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in News December 9, 2020