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Impaired driving, including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, spikes during the winter holiday season.

The White House has declared December National Impaired Driving Prevention Month in an attempt to combat increased rates of drinking and driving during the holidays.

Government officials have watched the rate of deaths from drinking and driving spike over the past few years and, unfortunately, officials anticipate an increased rate in 2017.

The rate of drinking and driving increases over the weeks surrounding the winter holidays. Winter weather, lack of sleep, and unfamiliar surroundings combined with inebriated driving leads to increased rates of accidents and fatalities.

According to a statement from the White House, “every 50 minutes, a person in the United States dies in a vehicle crash involving alcohol. We have seen too many lives cut short by impaired driving, and too many drivers continue to put themselves and others at risk every day.”

“During National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, we reemphasize that impaired driving is never acceptable. We recognize that we can eliminate impaired driving through our choices, and we pledge to make the right choice by driving sober,” continues the statement.

drinking-drivingAlthough impaired driving cost more than 10,000 lives in 2016, efforts to curb drinking and driving over the past four decades have helped curb the rate.

Forty years ago, nearly two-thirds of accidents involved alcohol.

The Presidential Proclamation states “Ultimately, the responsibility for preventing impaired driving lies with each of us. We care for our loved ones when we keep them safe and prevent them taking the wheel after drinking alcohol. By taking action to educate our fellow Americans, through coordinated efforts with family, friends, neighbors, schools, churches, and community organizations, we can reduce deaths and accidents arising from impaired driving.”

Unfortunately, millions of Americans still report driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs –more than 4 million in 2012 alone, according to the White House statement. Over the holiday season, alcohol related accidents increase by 12 percent, according to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Additionally, fatalities rose by 34 percent.

In addition to proclaiming December National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, the White House also noted that efforts to promote companies that provide solutions, including ride hailing services and new vehicle technology, can help. The White House statement also pointed out that it provides vital resources to law enforcement.

Officials hope that National Impaired Driving Prevention Month will help keep Americans safe on the road. Keep in mind that even one drink can affect a person’s ability to drive. The decision to designate a driver or take a taxi can keep the holidays happy for everyone.

If you or a loved one are in an accident due to an impaired driver, contact an attorney. The McDonald Worley attorneys are currently investigating claims.