The night before Thanksgiving is the unofficial start of the busy and dangerous DUI season that lasts until New Year's Day.
But, Thanksgiving Eve is sadly beginning to be known by a new darker term: “Blackout Wednesday” because binge drinking and drunk driving is starting to spike this night, data from research groups shows.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 728 people will be injured or killed each day between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day in drunk driving accidents, a rate two to three times higher than the rest of the year.
In the Carolinas, 25 people died last year in crashes over the Thanksgiving holiday.
The latest trend for the season is a substantial rise in binge drinking and DUIs on Thanksgiving Eve, or “Blackout Wednesday,” according to data from Alcohol Monitoring Systems. Many people who get drunk on this night strive to get so drunk they “black out.”
Making the night attractive to drinkers is that most many folks who out drinking can get off work early Wednesday and don't have to work Thursday. Even if they are involved in Thanksgiving festivities on Thursday, those are usually not until later in the day.
Over Thanksgiving, college students are back in their home towns and are reuniting with old pals. Some of those students are now drinking legally for the first time in the towns they grew up in.
Thanksgiving Eve has become particularly high-risk for young people, and in some urban areas, bars report that they now see more business on that day than St. Patrick's Day or New Year's. The term “Blackout Wednesday” was noted on websites referring to a binge-drinking night as far back as 2007.
Last year, 10 people died in fatal collisions in South Carolina during the holiday, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol.
In North Carolina, 15 motorists were killed and 391 were injured during the holiday period from Wednesday evening until midnight Sunday.
The data on drinking violations from Alcohol Monitoring Systems was compiled from the more than 315,000 offenders they've monitored since 2003.
SC and NC citizens can report highway problems to the Patrol by simply
dialing *HP (*47) on their cellular phones. The toll‑free call
goes directly to the nearest NC or SC Highway Patrol communication center.