Summer Holidays Remain Risky In Terms of Drinking and Driving Dangers

Heading out for a drive in the summer can be more dangerous than many people realize, due to increased likelihood of drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation says that the summer holidays – Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Independence Day – are second in terms of accidents with injuries or fatal accidents, with Thanksgiving taking first place. During the past decades, the summer holidays have seen a rise in fatal car accidents, and a significant rise in accidents related to alcohol.

Many of the accidents that involve fatalities will involve younger drivers. In Illinois, alcohol is involved in about 70 percent of car crashes that take someone’s life and happen between the dangerous hours of 12 a.m. to 3 p.m. For drivers in the younger age category, however, the stakes are even higher. Reports say drivers aged 21 to 34 in Illinois represent a large number of the state’s alcohol-related accidents involving loss of life.


Law enforcement officials across the country have responded to national attention toward preventing DUIs, revving up checkpoints and sending more patrols on the road to remove drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These efforts, and others, have resulted in gradual declines of deaths on the road related to alcohol, yet the summer still seems to hold its own type of danger in comparison to other times of the year with annual holidays.


Wilkes University associate professor of sociology Michael Garr has explored connections between social situations and alcohol consumption and the use of checkpoints as a tool for deterring drunken driving. Garr says that some of the rise in alcohol-related accidents during summer holidays occurs because the total of accidents is measured over a three or four-day weekend holiday, rather than one day of a holiday at another time throughout the year.


Additionally, some gathering places may have less strict alcohol enforcements during the summer months, typically due to outdoor settings, says Garr. Not only does the warm weather seem to encourage higher alcohol consumption, but more people consume alcohol during the summer at places like parks, where they wouldn’t typically drink alcohol during the winter months.


In combination with a less-strict atmosphere toward alcohol consumption, research shows that summer drivers overall, and especially teens, are more at risk to participate in distracted driving from music or cell phones during the summer when school responsibilities have faded.


Garr believes marketing messages and national campaigns to deter drinking and driving should focus more on reducing driving fatalities during the summer months, because the time period seems to set the scene for higher chances of being involved in an alcohol-related accident.