17:00 PM

Vehicle Crashes and DWI Arrests Increase Around the Thanksgiving Holiday

The Thanksgiving holiday is a time to spend celebrating with family and friends, so AAA Minnesota-Iowa in partnership with the Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths Metro Coalition and traffic safety agencies around the state, want to remind drivers to be smart, safe, and sober while in a vehicle to help ensure a good holiday for all. From 2016-2020, during the Thanksgiving holiday period (Wed-Mon as defined by NHSTA), Minnesota saw 328 crashes where alcohol is cited as the leading factor, and officers issued 2,257 DWI arrests in that same time period.

"No one wants to spend a holiday in the hospital, in jail, or informing loved ones of a crash, but unfortunately we see an increase in crashes and DWI arrests each year around the Thanksgiving holiday," says Meredith Mitts, spokesperson for AAA Minnesota-Iowa. "In order to make sure our first responders and tow providers can spend as much time as possible with their families and you can spend time with yours, we ask that drivers slow down, put distractions away, drive sober, and that all passengers wear their seatbelts properly."

According to MNDOT data from 2016-2020, Minnesota officers average 46 DWI arrests on a typical Wednesday but that number increases to 66 arrests on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and 95 arrests on Thanksgiving day. This time period is sometimes referred to as "blackout Wednesday" or "drunksgiving".

"These numbers only reflect the offenders officers are able to catch and don't begin to scratch the surface of roadway users who drive impaired," Mitts continues. "If you have had a few drinks, used any impairing substances, or are simply tired from staying up too late or eating too much food, you could be a danger on the roadway. If you feel different at all, positive or negative, we are asking that you find an alert and sober ride if you need to go somewhere."

Tips for staying safe this holiday season:

  • Plan ahead – If you are using any impairing substances, alcohol or otherwise, make sure to plan a sober ride ahead of time. This could be calling a taxi, rideshare or friend, having a designated sober driver, or simply staying where you are.
  • Buckle up – If you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45% (Kahane, 2015) and moderate to critical injury by 50% (NHTSA).
  • Slow Down – Speed significantly impacts the amount of time to react while driving. It also changes how severe a collision will be and whether it will result in minor injuries, major injuries or a fatality. Be sure to follow posted speed limits and drive for how the traffic and weather conditions allow.
  • Give yourself extra time and space – Whenever possible plan extra time for traffic and unplanned stops or delays, especially on longer trips and be sure to leave plenty of stopping room between your vehicle and the one ahead. This will let you take your time and reduces stress and anxiety behind the wheel.
  • When in doubt, don't drive – if you feel at all different, or if the road conditions are bad, don't get behind the wheel. If you have to ask yourself or others if you are safe to drive, the answer is probably not. It is better to stay safe where you are than to risk your life and others' trying to drive.