As Thanksgiving approaches, we reminded readers that it would be the start of a particularly dangerous time for motorists.
After all, the holiday season that begins in late November is a time when the roads are particularly crowded with travelers and too many drivers get behind the wheel after participating in celebrations involving alcohol.
Worse yet, it promised a return to relative normality in terms of holiday celebrations after a 2020 season where many people avoided gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the restrictions lifted, it was reasonable to expect more dangerous driving conditions.
Things have changed especially on the COVID-19 front. Right after Thanksgiving started spreading over the highly contagious omicron variant, and in just a matter of weeks, it caused a huge spike in cases, just in time to potentially put the brakes on Christmas celebrations.
But even with some changes in plans due to the latest wave of coronavirus, there were still many big Christmas celebrations, no doubt over a year ago.
It would be foolish to expect anything different on New Years Eve, which takes place on Friday, and the holiday weekend that follows it.
We urge readers to continue to be careful on the road. For many people, the entire period between Christmas Eve and New Years Day is an extended holiday, and this year an extra day is added due to New Years falling on a Saturday.
There are two areas of concern. One is the usual worry about drunk drivers after New Years Eve, and the other is a large number of people using the region’s roads this weekend as they return home after the hours. holiday season holiday.
PennDOT has statistics that show there are good reasons to be concerned. A triennial review from 2018 to 2020 shows that in the period from Thanksgiving Eve to New Years Day, there were a total of 3,722 impaired driving crashes in Pennsylvania. During those same periods, 88 people died in traffic accidents involving a drunk driver. Nationally, during the Christmas and New Years holiday periods in 2019 alone, there were more impaired driving fatalities (210) than during any other holiday period this year.
And more than 50% of accidents on New Years Day involve high blood alcohol levels, according to the American Safety Council.
So, again, we’ve got a few caveats for you: If you’re planning on drinking away from home over the holiday weekend, decide on transportation ahead of time. Travel with a designated driver or use a carpooling. Don’t get behind the wheel and don’t let someone you know who has been driving drunk.
Second, be aware that there may be impaired drivers on the road and drive safely and with extra caution.
With more cars on the road, more breakdowns are likely, causing additional danger to people along the road.
Drivers should always slow down and move for tow truck drivers, first responders and the motorists they are helping on the side of the road.
And, for your own peace of mind and for those around you, be patient. Roads and airports will be busy, so plan ahead.
Get to the airport early so you have plenty of time to clear the longer TSA lines and other travel control points. For domestic travel, AAA suggests two hours before departure time and three hours for international.
Hit the road when there is less traffic and allow more time to get to your destination.
And if safety concerns aren’t enough to persuade people to take precautions, remember that the police are out in force to watch drunk drivers during the holiday season. Even without an accident, the consequences of an arrest for impaired driving are very serious.
So drink responsibly; pay attention to those around you and be aware of the surroundings. Don’t let the vagaries of travel spoil the start of 2022: be careful there.