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Why You Should Give Thanks -- And Stay Home This Year

by Penny M. Hagerman
During the holidays, many people gather with family and friends to give thanks, express their love for one another and spend quality time catching up.
Unfortunately, all too often those family celebrations revolve around heavy portions of food and alcohol—a deadly combination when the festivities end and it’s time to climb behind the wheel and head home.
Drinking and Driving: the Real Killer
Each year, state and local police, emergency workers and hospitals are placed on high alert nationwide during the holidays due to dangerous driving conditions.
But bad weather and icy roads aren’t responsible for the majority of the damage. Drinking and driving causes more accidents and kills more people than anything else during the holidays, experts say.
So what’s the solution to reducing the accident and death rate during the holidays? If you have the option, have everyone at your house this year—and stay off the roads. You could just save a life...and it might be your own.
The Most Dangerous Time to Drive
You might think your chances of being involved in an accident with a drunken driver are highest on New Years Eve. Not so, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which revealed research lately that points to Thanksgiving as the most dangerous holiday of the year to drive.
Consuming a large amount of food and alcohol is bad enough. Follow that up with a long-distance or even an in-town drive, especially late in the day, and you’ve got a formula for disaster.
Why? Because overloaded digestive systems and excessive amounts of alcohol lead to slow response times, sleepy drivers and droopy eyelids. In conjunction with increased traffic volume and high stress experienced by many, fatal conditions often result.
The Effect of Drinking and Driving on Insurance
According to the CDC, alcohol-related crashes in the U.S. cost approximately 51 billion dollars every year. The Office for Victims of Crimes estimates that 30 percent of Americans will be involved in alcohol-related accidents at some point in their lifetime.
Drinking and driving ruins lives every day, and even more so during the holidays. The damage it leaves behind can result in death, exorbitant medical bills, expensive car repairs and high car insurance rates.
Besides the obvious problems for drunken driving victims, the issue also carries serious insurance penalties for those who cause this type of damage.
For instance, those ticketed for driving under the influence (DUI) are classified as “high-risk” drivers—and their insurance rates reflect it. They also risk cancellation or non-renewal by their auto insurance company, which forces those convicted to try and find new coverage with a DUI on their record.
In addition, if a drunken driver’s license is suspended, they’ll be required to carry an SR22. This is a document which proves to the department of motor vehicles that they carry liability insurance to protect other drivers, just in case it happens again.
With multiple DUIs, a person can eventually become uninsurable.
Staying Safe during the Holiday Season
So what’s the best way to stay safe this holiday season if you must be on the road? David Kelly, acting administrator for the NHTSA, recommends you:
  1. Always wear a seatbelt
  2. Make a plan for getting home if you plan to drink
  3. Avoid speeding
  4. Consider using an alternate form of transportation, like train, airplane or taxi
Don’t get caught on the road unaware. If you must drive during the holidays, take these safety tips to heart, enjoy your family time, and stay safe this year.
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