Drunken, distracted driving during the ‘dangerous’ holidays

Distracted driver.

Distracted driving gets a lot of attention in the mainstream media.

But as we approach the holidays – full of all sorts of distractions from shopping to family visits to parties – we wondered how much of a problem distracted driving is on our crowded roadways.

This seems appropriate as, not surprisingly, New Year’s Day is perhaps the most dangerous holiday of all and Christmas Day also is among the top five dangerous holidays, according to Forbes magazine, which looked at nearly 30 years of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

What we found was eye-opening, and it shed light on another continuing problem – drunken driving, especially during holiday periods such as New Year’s.

Combined drunken driving and distracted driving account for about four in 10 U.S. traffic fatalities, based on sources such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control. But that ratio is exceeded by drunken driving alone during the six major U.S. holidays, including New Year’s Day (46 percent) and Christmas (42 percent). Drunken driving fatalities generally are about three times greater than distracted driving deaths, reported Forbes.

“As we approach the holiday season, a time when drunk driving fatalities spike, MADD stands with our heroes in law enforcement … [and] urges everyone to plan ahead and designate a non-drinking driver,” MADD said in a pre-Thanksgiving press release. The organization reported new National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) data that showed drunken driving deaths rose in 2012.

But that still leaves a significant problem with distracted driving – especially during the busy holidays.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that texting and driving is dangerous. But plenty of people continue to do it,” wrote Kristin Marino for an infographic at onlineschools.com. “Most troubling: Even with all the stories of tragic car accidents … teens and adults are still texting at the wheel.”

Texting while driving is about six times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated, according to Texting and Driving Safety, the same as driving after four beers.

The OnlineSchools.com graphic will be republished Dec. 23 on The Open Road blog at RoadLoans.com.

So drive safely during the holidays, neither intoxicated nor intexticated … don’t let a moment of inattention or carelessness spoil the holiday season for you and your family.

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