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Be Careful on the Roads during “Blackout Wednesday”

According to Wikipedia, “Blackout Wednesday” refers to the night before Thanksgiving. Sometimes it is also known as Black Wednesday, or Drinksgiving. It earns this name due to the large amounts of partying, and by extension alcohol consumption, the day before Thanksgiving. For a lot of young people, they are off from work or school, and likely aren’t worried about doing a lot of cooking for Thanksgiving. Additionally, many students who have gone away to college, take advantage of reuniting with hometown friends. As a result, it is considered one of the biggest party days of the year.

Typically, the more parties happening, the higher chance of encountering drunk drivers, and Blackout Wednesday is no exception. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Thanksgiving holiday produces more people killed in drunk driving crashes than the Christmas holiday. Upserve reports that beer sales increased by about 270% and liquor sales increase 114% on that day. So while restaurants and bars staff up and stock up, so are the police stations. They will be on high alert to protect the community from drunk drivers. Whether you will be going out yourself that night or find yourself on the road that evening, it’s very important to be responsible for yourself. Here are some tips to be safe during Blackout Wednesday.

Drink Responsibly

Alcohol obviously has the ability to impair judgment. The more you drink, the worse your decision-making is and could lead to a person making potentially dangerous choices. It’s good to know your limits before you’ve had too much.

Additionally, excessive drinking can cause a number of problems for a person’s short-term and long-term health. Short-term risks include nausea, loss of consciousness, poor quality of sleep, vomiting, increased aggression, and alcohol poisoning. Long-term risks could lead to liver damage, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and depression.

Have A Designated Driver

This is a very simple and very effective way to ensure that everyone gets home safely. The designated driver eliminates any kind of driving risk since they opt to remain sober for the entire night. Take turns for who is going to be the designated driver among your group, and make sure you contribute in gas money for your chauffeur for the night.

It’s very important that the person who is the designated driver has zero alcohol. Any consumption of alcohol has the ability to impair a person. For the average person, it takes 2-3 drinks to become legally intoxicated. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) occurs when a person is driving while their blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds .08 in the state of New York. This results in a minimum license suspension of six months. Additionally, a driver facing a DWI could also serve jail time and have to pay hefty fines.

However, a driver is also at risk of getting a DWAI (driving while ability impaired) when at a BAC of .05 .This can impair someone after having as little as one standard alcoholic drink. So if you are the designated driver, don’t risk it and don’t have any drinks that night.

Identify a Dangerous Driver

If you do have to go out driving late Wednesday night, then there is a chance you will encounter a drunk driver. The best way to protect yourself is to pay attention to the best of your abilities to signs of a dangerous driver and take the necessary defensive driving measures.

Take note of the signs of a drunk driver. Teach your children who may now be driving as well so they can learn to drive defensively as well. A driver may be drunk if he/she is:

  • Driving 10 mph or more below the speed limit
  • Drifting between traffic
  • Signaling incorrectly
  • Illegal or abrupt turns
  • Driving over center lane marker
  • Delayed response to traffic signals
  • Quick acceleration
  • Swerving or zigzagging
  • Driving without headlights
  • Driving somewhere other than the road
  • Nearly colliding with objects/cars
  • Tailgating

How To Respond to a Drunk Driver

If you see some of these things taking place, it is likely you are sharing the road with a drunk driver. First and foremost you want to stay safe, and then do what you can to report the driver. Follow these steps:

  • Slow down or pull over. It might be tempting to want to speed past the driver but it is better that you are aware where the driver is rather than hoping you got far enough away to be in danger.
  • Record information. Try and remember the vehicles make, color and model as well as the license plate. Don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation trying to get this information, but this is what the police needs to get the dangerous driver off the road.
  • Do NOT try to get the driver to pull over yourself. This greatly increases your risk of getting in a car accident. Remember an average of 29 people die every die from a drink driver. Do not put yourself at risk, just get information if you can safely do so.
  • Report the driver. If you were able to get information, pull over and call 911 and report what you saw. Even if you missed a detail you can still give additional details like what road you are driving on and what intersections the driver passed. You should also explain what you saw that made you think that the driver was drunk.

The best way to avoid drunk drivers is to avoid driving altogether the night before Thanksgiving, if possible. Try and get your groceries finished as early as you can, so you can avoid the risk of sharing the road with a drunk driver. Additionally, if your kids or teens are hanging out with friends, it might be a good idea to set a curfew for them or arrange for them to sleep over. This would decrease the risk of you or your teenager to share the road with an intoxicated driver. We wish everyone a safe Thanksgiving weekend here at Palermo Law.

About the Author

Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.

His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.