Be Thankful If You Get Home Safe: Blackout Wednesday and Drunksgiving

For many Americans, Thanksgiving not only comes with a turkey — it includes a hangover, too. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and early morning on Thanksgiving Day have become some of the most dangerous times to be on the road, in large part because of drunk drivers.

The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the most traveled days of the year. There could be 50% more drivers on the roads, some having driven long distances, and they may be fatigued or distracted. Add to the mix an unusually high number of drunk drivers and the results can be catastrophic or lethal. “Blackout Wednesday” and “Drunksgiving” are terms used by bar owners and police who deal year after year with a surge of drinkers and an increase in drunk driving.

Late evening on Wednesday and early morning on Thanksgiving could be especially dangerous because there are likely to be many more party-goers than travelers on the roads. Revelers often plan ahead for safe post-party transportation on Christmas and New Year’s, but that is not the case on Thanksgiving.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show more people are killed by drunk drivers on Thanksgiving holiday than New Year’s, making it the most dangerous holiday to be on the road. How did a holiday started by Puritans become so alcohol-soaked?

It’s a time when college kids return home to reunite with not only family, but also friends, perhaps high school drinking buddies. With all the cooking planned for Thursday, many families go out on Wednesday to enjoy drinks and food that other people prepare. Some may feel they need alcohol to help them cope with family drama.

The Wall Street Journal talked to those in the bar business across the country and found some who said the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a bigger night than New Year’s Eve. One bar owner stated, “That Wednesday night has grown into the pinnacle event of the holiday weekend. It used to be, ‘Oh, let’s get together Wednesday because it’s convenient.’ Now, for a certain demographic it has become an institution.”It’s a busy holiday for law enforcement, too. For example, Pennsylvania’s 4,000 state troopers made the following DUI arrests in 2010, according to the WSJ:

  • 197 arrests over the Christmas weekend
  • 267 arrests over New Year’s
  • 412 arrests over the Thanksgiving holiday.

There were 1,816 people killed in New Jersey in vehicle accidents involving a drunk driver from 2003 to 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men and those aged 21 to 34 suffered the greatest numbers of deaths.

Those of us here at the Law Offices of James DeZao want you to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends, not with police officers, EMTs and emergency room doctors. If you drink, don’t drive. If you drive, don’t drink.

If you or a loved one is injured or killed because of a drunk driver, we can help you in your time of need. We help those impacted by drunk driving by protecting their rights to obtain fair compensation for their injuries. Contact our office for a free consultation today, (973) 358-6134.

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