UK HealthCare

Safe Driving During the Holiday Season

The University of Kentucky Public Relations & Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This column is by Amanda Rist, outreach/injury prevention coordinator for the UK HealthCare Trauma Program Office.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 20, 2019) — If you’re hitting the road to visit loved ones this holiday season, you’re not alone. AAA estimates millions of Americans will pack their bags and the vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the worst time of year for crashes is between Christmas and New Year. Nationally, over the last five years, in less than a week, an average of 300 people died in drunk driving crashes.

Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of hospital admissions and deaths in Kentucky. Between 2010 and 2014, the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center tracked 251,945 crash victim visits to emergency departments.

It’s important to note that we don’t call motor vehicle collisions “accidents” because these crashes are preventable. A majority of the time, drivers who cause the crashes are either driving distracted – using a cell phone, playing with the radio or getting distracted by other passengers – or are driving impaired.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminds drivers to buckle up in every seat, on every trip, no matter how short it may be. Make sure kids are buckled up, too, in a seat that is appropriate for their age, height and weight. It’s also a good idea to brush up on driver safety resources, especially for those drivers who may be new and inexperienced, like teenagers.

The law makes it illegal to drive anywhere in the United States with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at or above .08%.

The CDC estimates a person’s BAC level based on the number of beers they’ve consumed. For example, after about two beers, they predict your BAC is around .02%. It’s possible you could experience a loss of judgment and have trouble doing two tasks at one time. After about four beers, your BAC level could hit .08%, which is at the legal limit. The CDC says at this level, drivers have trouble controlling speed and difficulty processing information and reasoning. Remember, these are only estimates and should not be used to determine whether you can drive. If you have consumed any alcohol, it’s best to find someone else who can drive.

Bottom line – if you’ve been drinking, get a ride.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.