'Tis The Season to be Smart

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in the United States is the most dangerous season of the year for anyone driving on public highways. The number of travelers on our nation’s roads peaks as we get endless opportunities to celebrate the season with family and friends. Our calendars are filled with after-work socials, company parties, and friendly gatherings.   It’s also the season when the number of people who consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel of their car spikes.

Every year there is an alarming increase in DUI offenses and alcohol-related highway deaths during the holiday season.

Between Thanksgiving and New Years

  • 38+ million Americans travel by car for Thanksgiving
  • 90 million Americans take road trips during Christmas and New Years
  • 1 in 8 licensed drivers have driven in the last year thought they were close 
or over .08 BAC.
  • 2 -3 times more people die in alcohol-related crashes
  • 1200 people will be killed
  • 25,000 will be injured in traffic accidents caused by alcohol

Percent of highway deaths related to alcohol

  • 40% Thanksgiving
  • 37% Christmas
  • 58% New Year’s Holiday
  • 40% Entire Holiday Season
  • 31% The Rest of the Year

Thanksgiving Eve is often referred to as “Blackout Wednesday,” as it may be the busiest night of the year for bars. Social binge drinking is also common during this time of year.


  • A bigger drinking holiday than New Year’s Eve or Saint Patrick’s Day in some places.
  • Especially prevalent in larger urban areas and among college students.
  • One of the top drunk driving nights of the year in some areas.


  • 96% went to work hung over, or knew some who did.
  • 60% think alcohol make a party more fun.
  • 57% have seen people drive under the influence.
  • 40% say that they, their friends, and their family members use the holidays as an excuse to drink more

Don’t let the temptation to drink and drive spoil the holiday season. Even a small buzz is considered impairment, and you could end up with a DUI.

These statistics highlight the massive problem surrounding alcohol abuse during the holidays, but it’s much more than that.  Behind these statistics are people.  Perhaps it’s your mom or dad, a brother or sister, a friend or family member, or your next-door neighbor that struggles with alcohol during the holidays. If you recognize that you might be dealing with an alcohol or substance abuse issue, or if you are a friend or the family of someone who does, I encourage you to seek help. Have a safe, healthy and happy New Year.

Mike Reis is the founder and CEO of DecisionPoint Wellness, a drug and alcohol outpatient program in Johns Creek that features an innovative approach to treating the disease of addiction. Their outpatient programs offer the convenience and flexibility needed by clients so they can receive the highest level of care while still living at home and meeting their normal family and work responsibilities.  888.892.8178.  DPWellnessCenter.com