Remember last week when some local sheriffs implied that they had better things to do on Thanksgiving than enforce Gov. Cuomo’s limit on family gatherings?
Well, one of those “things” is being out on patrol keeping our streets safe.
With the coronavirus pandemic foremost in many of our minds these days, it’s easy to forget that the Thanksgiving holiday also brings other threats to our health and safety beyond a deadly pandemic.
Police who aren’t breaking up family reunions will be out enforcing the drunk driving laws and looking out for drivers who are falling asleep at the wheel.
Even with travel expected to be limited this week due to the virus, and with bars throughout the state closing earlier than normal, Thanksgiving week still will be a treacherous time to be in your car.
As they always have, college kids are flocking home for the holidays, anxious to reunite with old friends and making the Wednesday before Thanksgiving a dangerous time because many of those kids will be out drinking and driving.
Thanksgiving is the third most dangerous holiday period for drunken driving behind only New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July. The risk of being involved in a fatal DWI crash on Thanksgiving weekend is 89% higher than normal, almost double the usual threat.
Drowsy driving caused by overeating and lack of sleep is also a major cause of car crashes around Thanksgiving.
This year, because of covid, family members might be less likely than in the past to spend the night at a relative’s home over Thanksgiving, increasing the chances that more drivers may opt to drive home after eating heavily and drinking more than normal on Thursday.
And if you’re tempted to try your luck despite the dangers, remember that fewer drivers on the roads means police might be able to spot you easier.
The penalties for driving while intoxicated in New York start out with a heavy fine and quickly escalate to potential license suspension and jail time, not to mention the legal fees. And that’s assuming you don’t kill or injure anyone.
Don’t risk it. Keep drinking over the holiday to a minimum and don’t drive when you’ve been drinking.
Also be aware of the signs of drowsy driving (yawning, burning eyes, nodding off). Take frequent breaks and switch drivers regularly. Caffeine takes time to kick in, and cranking up the radio or rolling down the windows for fresh air doesn’t really work to keep you awake.
While you’re doing your best to stay socially distanced, wearing your masks and not getting too close to elderly relatives, remember to plan ahead and take steps to prevent another type of tragedy this week.
Your family and friends will be most thankful knowing you got home safely.