The holidays are right around the corner. Many of us have already begun our shopping and we’re looking forward to family gatherings and holiday parties. Unfortunately, when we plan for the holidays we have to plan for another part of this season—an increase in drunk driving accidents. The nature of the holiday season is unique. Many people are spending their time celebrating, while some are navigating family tension and stressful finances. Others may be grieving their first holiday as a divorcee or since the loss of a loved one. Any of these circumstances could compel a person to drink more than usual, and a holiday party is the perfect avenue to do so.

Unfortunately, this means more people are making poor choices concerning driving while intoxicated. According to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, during the week of Christmas and New Years, 40 percent of traffic related deaths are the result of drunk driving. Compared to other times of the year, this is a 12 percent increase. When you focus in even closer, the statistics become even more alarming. On Christmas day, 52 percent of traffic-related fatalities are the result of drunk driving. And on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, that number skyrockets to 57 percent.

Plan to Drive Safely This Holiday

Approach this holiday season planning to make safe driving choices. If you plan to drink, make arrangements for a designated driver, a taxi, or to spend the night where you are drinking. If someone you are celebrating has been drinking, it is always better to err on the side of offending them by taking away their keys.

Additionally, when you get out on the road this holiday, practice mindful driving. Avoid distractions such as cell phone use, loud music, or text. All of these things make for dangerous driving conditions and could prevent you from becoming aware of another driver’s erratic driving or responding quickly in a dangerous situation.

Note: This is a 2-part blog post. Come back next week for the second part of this article.