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Drinking and driving deaths rise around the holidays

The period from Thanksgiving to New Year's traditionally has an uptick in the number of drunk driving fatalities. On average, 1,200 people die each year during the holidays in alcohol-related collisions.

According to the Department of Transportation, during the years between 2001 and 2005, on average, 45 individuals died daily over the holiday season in accidents.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving concur, adding that alcohol has a role in approximately 52 percent of all of the fatal accidents on Christmas. On New Year's, the rate is even higher — 57 percent. These rates compare with the 41 percent for the whole year. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that another 25,000 will suffer injuries in collisions involving alcohol.

Despite these grim statistics, alcohol-related deaths in auto accidents are actually quite a bit lower now than they were in 1982 when 60 percent of all crash fatalities were tied to drunk driving. The rate has dropped to around 40 percent in recent years.

Law enforcement sources report that DWI arrests are increasing, as up to 2 million licensed drivers have had at least three convictions for Driving While Intoxicated. As frightening as it is to contemplate, over 400,000 drivers with five or more convictions for DWI are still driving.

If you are worried about becoming a statistic, take these steps to reduce your risk:

-- Never drive after drinking, even if you don't think you're impaired.

-- Keep others from driving when they have been drinking.

-- On holidays, avoid being on the roads late in the evening and in the early morning hours.

-- If you have to be on the roads during those dangerous times, be alert for erratic drivers who may be drunk.

-- Call 911 to report those you suspect are driving drunk.

Despite all precautions, accidents happen. Make sure that you investigate all of your legal options if you are injured in a crash with a drunken driver.

Source: MassMoms.com, "Sobering Statistics On Holiday Drinking And Driving," David Beuttel, accessed Dec. 11, 2015

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