West Virginia’s risk of drunk driving during holidays

Over the holiday times it is important for all West Virginia residents to be aware of the risk of drunk drivers on the state’s roads.

The joys of the holidays can create some of the best times of the year for residents in West Virginia. From Thanksgiving all the way through New Year's Day, there can seem to be an unending level of celebration and special times. However, this period of the year can also bring with it an increased risk of alcohol and drug-related accidents on the state's roads and highways.

National data tells the story

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains all of the country's highway traffic collision data and these records point to the risks that drivers face each year during the major holiday season. NHTSA information from 2001 to 2005 compared drunk driving fatalities over the holiday days in December of those years to the non-holiday days in December of the same years.

For the days associated with the New Year's and Christmas holidays, a total of 40 percent of fatalities in car crashes resulted from drunk driving accidents. For the days in those Decembers not associated with the New Year's and Christmas holidays, a total of 28 percent of fatalities in car crashes resulted from drunk driving accidents.

Closer inspection of records from 2005 alone corroborates the story. This information breaks out the average number of deaths that map to the Christmas holiday, the New Year's holiday and the non-holiday days. In the first group an average of 46 deaths per day attributable to drunk drivers were recorded. In the second group an average of 55 deaths per day attributable to drunk drivers were recorded. These statistics compare to the non-holiday dates for which an average of 34 deaths per day attributable to drunk drivers were recorded.

The picture in West Virginia

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the number of deaths due to drunk drivers in 2012 represented an increase by more than two percent over the prior year. That year, a total of 10,774 people were arrested statewide for impaired driving offenses.

Additional data from the NHTSA shows that throughout all of West Virginia, 95 out of 339 automobile fatalities were caused by drunk drivers. In Kanawha County, seven out of 25 vehicular deaths resulted from drunk driving accidents. Neighboring Putnam and Boone Counties lost three out of 10 and three out of nine lives due to the actions of drunk drivers, respectively.

Taking action

It is important for all people to feel safe on the roads at any time, especially during the holidays. When tragedy strikes, seeking legal help is important and can facilitate receiving appropriate compensation.

Keywords: drunk driving, accident, injury