Holiday eating season is finally upon us. Get ready for turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, and boatloads of gravy. So, so much gravy. Of course, when you have food- you also need drinks. Many families want to avoid cooking the night before the big holiday, so they choose to go out to a restaurant for dinner. Others want to catch up with old friends who are home for the holidays, and they head to the bars.
Regardless of why you are going out, it is important to plan ahead and make sure that your holiday doesn’t end with you getting injured in a wreck or getting a DUI. Did you know that Thanksgiving Eve is also the biggest drinking night of the year? The day has become a minor holiday with nicknames such as “Blackout Wednesday” and “Drunksgiving.” Restaurants and bars have come up with in-depth marketing strategies to get people in the door and get them drinking.
Unfortunately, this much drinking makes Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Eve two of the most dangerous days in the year to be driving. In fact, more people died from car crashes around Thanksgiving over the last five years than any other holiday. As you prepare to give thanks, it is also important to stay safe on the road. Here are some tips on how to stay safe.
Follow the Laws
Don’t drink and drive. Make sure you and all the passengers in the car are wearing seatbelts, even if it is just a short drive. Don’t use your cell phone while driving. Follow all traffic laws, including speed limits. If you see someone too drunk to be driving, offer to help them follow the law and find a safe ride home by calling them a cab.
If you spot a drunk driver or someone driving erratically, report them. If you are driving, make note of the license plate and have a passenger call 9-1-1. This will allow police to stop drunk drivers from hurting others and causing serious accidents.
If you are planning on traveling over the holidays but won’t be out drinking, leave early. Peak DUI time is in the evening and when restaurants and bars close.
If you do most of your traveling during the day and get to your destination before it gets dark, you will have a better chance of arriving safely and without incident. If you are going out, try to leave early before the rush at closing time.
Choose to go to a bar or restaurant that is close to your house. This will make give you a shorter travel time on the road. Plan your route early and avoid highways or areas where there may be lots of traffic or pedestrians. Have safety numbers programmed into your phone so you can make calls easily.
It will also be colder out and there may be snow or ice. Make sure that your car is prepared for this. Have an emergency preparedness kit and get your tires weatherized if they need it. Make sure your phone is charged so if you do get into an accident you can take pictures and call the police.
Designate a Sober Driver
If you are going to take part in Drunksgiving, make sure at least one person in your group isn’t drinking. While it may not be the most exciting option, offering to be the designated driver will make sure that neither you nor your friends will get a DUI that night. The penalties for DUI in Indiana are pretty harsh. Fortunately, many bars offer free non-alcoholic drinks or waive the cover charge if you are the sober driver in the group.
Get a Ride
As the informal drinking holiday grows, so does the response for safe options to get home. This is particularly true if you live in a more populated area or a city. There are options for cabs and rideshares that can get you home safely. Last year, Mother’s Against Drunk Driving teamed with rideshare company Uber to provide free rides home is several select cities.
What to Do if You Get Pulled Over
Even if you follow all the above tips, you may still be pulled over or stopped at a sober checkpoint. If this happens, the most important thing to do is remain calm. Be cooperative with the officer and follow their instructions. Have your ID, registration, and proof of insurance easily accessible. Remember that you have the right to refuse to answer some questions and that you can ask to speak to an attorney.