While Thanksgiving is a time families come together to celebrate a year of gratitude, those celebrations can lead to tragic consequences.
One of the busiest days of the year for holiday drivers coincides with one of the busiest nights of the year for bars.
“It’s important to point out Blackout Wednesday, that Wednesday before Thanksgiving, which . . . is one of the most congested time to be on the roads, also is a time when you have a lot of, unfortunately, intoxicated drivers behind the wheel,” AAA Carolinas spokeswoman Tiffany Wright said.
This Thanksgiving, an estimated record 732,000 people are expected to be traveling more than 50 miles from home in South Carolina, with 90 percent of those travelers doing so by road.
“Blackout Wednesday, or Drunksiving, as it’s sometimes dubbed, is literally one of the most, I would say, heavily binge-drinking holidays –if you can, it’s not even an official holiday — but it rivals New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day,” Wright said.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, more than 800 people were killed in drunk driving crashes over the Thanksgiving weekend nationwide from 2012 to 2016, making it the deadliest driving holiday in the U.S. More people were killed in crashes on Thanksgiving day than on New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day in 2015 and 2016.
Since many do not have to work Thanksgiving, they may spend more time in a bar on Wednesday and drink more than they normally would. Also, many drivers are visiting their hometown from somewhere else and are trying to catch up with old friends.
“They’re all kind of coming in for a reunion,” Wright said. “You’re seeing family. You’re seeing friends, childhood friends you haven’t seen in years. You’re not doing it on Thanksgiving so it becomes a day before and it turns into binge drinking where people start early in the day and they go all the way through the night.”
And the danger doesn’t stop on Thanksgiving Day.
“A lot of these holidays center around alcohol,” SC Highway Patrol Lance Cpl. David Jones said. “And that’s why we’re out in full force. There’s a lot of fatal crashes that happen during the holidays where alcohol is the cause of it.”