According to a safety group, deadly U.S. crashes tied to New Year’s are more likely to be alcohol-related than accidents during other holiday periods, with Christmas having the lowest share of fatalities linked to drinking.
There was an average of 108 traffic deaths a day in the New Year’s period, with about 42 % linked to alcohol impairments, according to the National Safety Council, citing data from 2007 to 2011. That compares with 35 % of the 93 fatalities in the average day in the Christmas period.
The council projects there will be 105 traffic fatalities from 6 p.m. Dec. 24 through the end of the next day and 11,200 injuries so serious that a medical professional is consulted, according to a statement.
For the 30-hour period beginning Dec. 31, the figures will be 156 and 16,700, according to the council; a nonprofit group founded 100 years ago and chartered by Congress.
“The difference between the two holidays is that everybody on New Year’s Eve is going out to parties and at their parties, they’re having the alcohol,” Capt. Nancy Rasmussen, chief of public affairs for the Florida Highway Patrol, said in an interview. Christmas is more of a “stay-in-the-house, do-the-family thing, so there’s less drinking.”
The July 4, Memorial Day and Labor Day periods have the greatest number of fatalities, with an average of at least 140 each per day. New Year’s has the fourth most, followed by November’s Thanksgiving and Christmas, among the six holidays reviewed by the council. The study counts Thanksgiving as a period of more than four days, from Wednesday evening through Sunday.