DETROIT (WWJ) – New Year’s evokes visions of celebrations and fresh beginnings, but unfortunately, the holiday has a more somber side when it comes to alcohol and crashes.
January 1 is the deadliest day on average for alcohol-related crashes involving a motor vehicle, pedestrian or bicyclist, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Using the five most recent years of available fatal crash data, IIHS researchers found that every New Year’s Day, an average of 70 lives were lost in crashes in which at least one driver, pedestrian or bicyclist had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher. Sixty-one percent of the average of 113 crash deaths on Jan. 1 were due to alcohol impairment. That is nearly double the overall impairment rate of 35 percent during the 2011-15 period.
Jan. 1 also is the deadliest day for occupants of cars, minivans, pickup trucks and SUVs. Across the five-year study period, an average of 83 lives were lost in passenger vehicle crashes on New Year’s Day. In comparison, an average of 59 people died in passenger vehicle crashes on any given day during 2011-15. The data in the analysis are from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System, an annual census of fatal crashes on U.S. roads.
Top days with most passenger vehicle occupant crash deaths:
- January 1 — 414 deaths
- November 1 — 376 deaths
- November 21 — 365 deaths
- December 14 — 365 deaths
- May 3 — 364 deaths
- November 22 — 360 deaths
- June 25 — 358 deaths
- June 26 — 358 deaths
- November 15 — 357 deaths
- November 10 — 355 deaths
- November 23 — 355 deaths
“Don’t get caught up in the levity of celebrations and forget common sense. Plan your ride home before the party starts to minimize your risk and mark a safe start to 2017,” Joe Nolan, IIHS senior vice president for vehicle research, said in a statement.
It’s not just drivers who need to be cautious. Although pedestrians and bicyclists are at risk of being struck by impaired drivers, they also are at risk when they have been overindulging themselves. In 2015, 46 percent of pedestrians and 36 percent of bicyclists age 16 and older killed in crashes between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. had BACs at or above 0.08 percent.