AAA Warns of Driving Dangers on ‘Drinksgiving’

The day of frenzied shopping that follows Thanksgiving is commonly referred to as Black Friday.

But, in recent years, some have started referring to the night before Thanksgiving as ‘Blackout Wednesday’ or ‘Drinksgiving’ because of the heavy alcohol consumption or binge drinking done by college students and others, home for the holiday and reuniting with friends and family at bars, restaurants or homes.

“While ‘Blackout Wednesday’ or ‘Drinksgiving’ may be clever ‘buzz’ words, there’s nothing clever about being buzzed or drunk and getting behind the wheel,” said Kara Hitchens, AAA spokeswoman. “Drivers also need to remember that prescription, over-the-counter medications and illegal drugs can impair the ability to drive safely, as well. Combining any of these drugs with alcohol can increase the impairment factor more.”

This year, AAA projects that 48.5 million Americans will travel by car to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. That projection includes nearly 2 million Ohioans.

From 2013 to 2017, more than 800 people died nationwide in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period (6 p.m. Wednesday to 5:59 a.m. Monday), making it the deadliest holiday on our roads, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Last year in Ohio, over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday, there were 3,312 crashes resulting in 1,114 injuries and 22 fatalities. Alcohol was a factor in five of the deaths over the holiday period.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol, along with local law enforcement, will be increasing patrols to foster safe roadways during the busy Thanksgiving holiday travel week, with a special eye out for impaired drivers.

AAA is reminding anyone headed out Wednesday night or throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and planning to drink:

• Buzzed driving is drunk driving. Don’t risk it.

• Make a plan ahead of time to have a sober, designated driver.

• If you don’t have a designated driver, call a friend or family member, taxi or car share service such as Uber or Lyft to get you home safely.

• Never let family or friends drive if they have had too much alcohol to drink.

• If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact law enforcement.

“It is never OK to get behind the wheel of a vehicle when you are buzzed or drunk,” continued Hitchens. “The risk of injury or death for yourself, passengers and others on the roads is not worth it, especially when there are other ways to get home safely. AAA wants everyone to safely enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with their friends and family and not have to deal with a tragedy caused by impaired driving.”