JENKINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Thanksgiving eve is a night known for overindulgence and it’s not food. This night before the holiday has a reputation for high alcohol consumption. Officials have a warning aimed at keeping you safe on the road.
A trooper armed with a radar gun watched for more than just speeding violations on River Road. He was keeping an extra keen eye for signs of impaired driving on Thanksgiving Eve a night that’s spawned nicknames like “Drinksgiving”. “Or they call it “Blackout Wednesday,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic Traffic Safety Community Educator Andreea Higdon.
AAA Mid-Atlantic raises road safety concerns not only because Thanksgiving Eve is considered one of the busiest travel days of the year, but also because many college students may binge drink while home for the holiday. “They’re going out to the bars. They’re meeting up with their friends that they haven’t seen all year and they’re probably the ones more likely to not make great decisions,” said Ms. Higdon. PA State Police Trooper Deanna Piekanski added, “It’s a big night to go out, see their friends, have some drinks and we’re asking that you don’t drink and drive.”
Staying sober on the road should seem like a no-brainer but not according to a 2016 survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. What’s troubling about the study is that even though virtually all drivers disapprove of drinking and driving it finds that more than one in eight admits to getting behind the wheel either thinking they were near the legal alcohol limit or even above it.
Decades after we first heard of the concept “designated driver”, there are options for you to celebrate and travel responsibly. “You know ride sharing, Uber, Lyft, those are really big. Those are readily available especially on those days where we’re going to have more cars on the road,” said Ms. Higdon.
AAA reports during the holidays, an average of 45 people per day are killed by intoxicated drivers, compared to 28 a day the rest of the year. State police remind you impairment begins with that first drink. “Your reflexes are going to be slower, your responses, if you’re drinking and driving,” said Tpr. Piekanski. Avoiding a preventable tragedy is something to really be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Pennsylvania State Police also remind you to always wear your seat belt when traveling. PennDOT reports during Thanksgiving weekend 2016 there were 4,531 crashes and 54 fatalities.