Unfortunately New Year’s day has its darker 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.
The conclusion comes from a new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) analysis. It used the five most recent years of available fatal crash data to find 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 (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. 61% of the average of 113 crash deaths on January 1 were due to alcohol impairment. That is almost double the overall impairment rate of 35% during the four year between 2011 and 2015.
The first day of the year is also 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.
“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”, says IIHS’s senior vice president for vehicle research Joe Nolan.
The theoretical risk for pedestrians and bicyclists is even higher as they would be cautious of being struck by impaired New Year’s Day drivers and also when they have been overindulging themselves. In 2015, 46% of pedestrians and 36% of bicyclists age 16 and older killed in crashes between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. had BACs at or above 0.08%.