Is New Years Day the most dangerous day to drive?

20 December 2018


Drink driving comes into sharp focus at Christmas and New Year. All those parties. All that alcohol. And some of the worst weather conditions of the year.

It’s sounds like New Year’s Day driving would be a recipe for disaster, but is it? We take a look at the most dangerous times of the year to drive and how to stay safe on your travels.

The morning after effect

Decades of drink driving advertising campaigns have made driving while under the influence a social taboo. However, after decades of falling numbers of drink-drive accidents, they’re on the increase again.

In 2018, around 9,050 people were killed or injured when at least one of the drivers was over the limit. That’s 5% of all reported road casualties; the highest number since 2012.

And it’s not just at night that people are falling foul of drink drive laws but the morning after, as these government statistics show:

  • around 5,500 people fail a breath test in the morning each year between 6am and midday
  • 58% of people who drink 4 pints or more on a night out admit to driving the morning afterwards yet only 1 in 3 are aware they could be over the limit

From this data, it’s clear that many people don’t understand the ‘morning after’ effect and how long it takes for alcohol to be eliminated from the body.

Luckily, technology provides two solutions to help you check your alcohol levels before undertaking any New Year’s Day driving:

  1. Online calculators - if you can remember what you drank on your night out, simply enter it into an online tool. It will calculate how many units you consumed and when you could be safe to drive. These tools are only as accurate as the data you put in and everyone processes alcohol at different rates, so they aren’t completely reliable. However, you’ll probably be surprised just how long you need to wait to legally drive after a few drinks.
  2. Breathalysers - it is possible to buy your own breathalyser so you can check your alcohol levels with a better degree of accuracy. Single-use options are not said to be as precise as reusable breathalysers that can be similar in accuracy to police devices.

Stay safe in winter weather

It’s not just other road users you’ve got to contend with. Poor weather conditions also pose a hazard. With many of us taking to the roads over the festive period, it pays to be aware of winter weather driving tips. Particularly if the drivers around you shouldn’t be on the road.

Before you set off, clear any snow from your car to ensure you have full visibility and to avoid blinding other road users. If the ground is icy, start your vehicle in a higher gear to prevent your wheels from spinning. And, when driving, make sure you leave plenty of room between you and the car in front as braking distances increase when roads are wet, icy or snowy.

You never know when you might break down so it’s also worth packing a winter road kit including a shovel, blanket, torch, tow rope and jump leads.

Statistics show summer to be worse for crashes

This combination of alcohol and poor weather sounds like New Year’s Day driving is a high risk activity. However, January is actually one of best months to be on the roads: data shows that, aside from February, it’s the month with the lowest number of driving crashes involving fatalities or serious incidents.

Surprisingly, summer is actually the time of year you’re most likely to be involved in a bad accident. Saturdays in July and August are riskiest as the UK’s roads become busy with families getting away for the summer holidays. A combination of heat, heavy traffic, stress and noisy families creates some of the deadliest road conditions.

Take care at New Year

However, that doesn’t mean you should throw caution to the wind this New Year. Instead, follow our top tips to stay safe and avoid New Year’s driving wherever possible:

  1. Have a designated driver for your new year’s night out or host a party at home and book taxis to get everyone back safely
  2. If you’re away for New Year, delay your journey home and only get in your car on January 2nd when you’re safe to do so
  3. Buy and use a quality breathalyser to ensure you’re safe to drive

We all want to start the new year with a bang. To make sure it’s the right kind, plan how you’ll be driving at New Year.

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