Risks to Chicago residents of holiday drunk drivers

People who live in and around Chicago face a higher risk of being involved in a fatal drunk driving accident during the holidays that at other times.

The dangers associated with drunk driving in Chicago are well documented. It is no secret that drinking and driving can increase the chance of having an accident. Crashes caused by drivers who get behind the wheel of vehicles while impaired by alcohol can result in serious personal injuries or wrongful death.

During holiday times, CyberDriveIllinois.com indicates that the number of motor vehicle accidents attributed to impaired driving increases. In 2011, 50 percent of all Illinois fatalities from car accidents over the Thanksgiving holiday resulted from drunk driving crashes. The Fourth of July was the only holiday that year that saw more lives lost at the hands of drunk drivers.

Traffic deaths over Christmas from alcohol-involved accidents accounted for 38 percent of all vehicular fatalities. Over the New Year's holiday, drunk drivers were responsible for 33 percent of all automotive collision deaths during that time period. A total of 12 lives were lost in Illinois due to impaired drivers.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that in 2012 a total of 34 percent of all accident fatalities in Illinois resulted from accidents with impaired drivers. In 2011, that number was 15 percent lower than in 2012

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics add to the picture and show that 321 motor vehicle accident deaths out of a total of 956 statewide in 2012 involved alcohol. In Cook County alone, 89 people perished at the hands of drunk drivers.

National data supports state findings

Illinois' statistics from 2011 are consistent with the trend seen across the nation. Archives from the NHTSA make it easy to see that drunk driving during the holidays is a longstanding problem.

Viewing information from 2001 to 2005, the NHTSA compared drunk driving fatality rates between 25 days in December not designated as holidays with the December days designed as holidays. For the 25 non-holiday days, a total of 28 percent of all vehicular fatalities were impacted by alcohol. For the holidays, that percent jumped by 12 points to 40 percent.

A detailed look at December 2005 shows an average of 34 lives lost per day during non-holiday days to drunk drivers. For days designated as the Christmas holiday an average of 46 lives were lost per day to drunk drivers. Moving on to the New Year's holiday the fatality rate grew to an average of 55 lives lost per day to drunk drivers.

Help for victims and loved ones

Every person involved in an accident should know that they deserve compensation. Victims or their family members are urged to contact a lawyer after any collision, including those involving drunk drivers.

Keywords: drunk driving, accident, injury