Some pleasant images come to mind when thinking of the holidays. There’s time with loved ones, delicious food, and much needed time off work. If your family is as crazy as any other, then alcohol is probably part of a successful holiday gathering as well.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what makes the roads so dangerous over the holidays. There is a lot of alcohol mixed with a lot of driving — a big no-no, as you know. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost half of all traffic fatalities involve alcohol. The sheer number of people drinking and driving on the roads during the holidays makes these times the most dangerous driving times of the year. Let’s take a look at what holidays are especially dangerous, and what you can do to stay safe.

#1 Most Dangerous: Thanksgiving

If you had to guess what the most dangerous holiday for driving would be, you would probably think New Years since it is the one most associated with drinking. But you’d be wrong. It’s actually Thanksgiving.

Recall the nights before Thanksgiving. Remember all of those reunions you and your friends would have back in your hometown? Well, those still happen, and they are still responsible for many traffic accidents and fatalities.

In 2012, there were 300 alcohol-related traffic deaths over Thanksgiving weekend, dubbing it the most deadly weekend of the year. Further, 60% of people in those accidents did not wear a seatbelt.

New Year’s Holiday

Coming in at the second most dangerous holiday is New Year’s. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering all of the parties that happen, which led to 70 fatalities in alcohol-related traffic accidents during New Year’s day.

Other Dangerous Holidays?

The danger isn’t only limited to the winter holidays. The summer months have their holidays as well: Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day. Summer brings out big backyard parties and BBQs, which of course include alcohol. These holidays have spikes in alcohol-related traffic deaths, too.

A holiday you may not have pegged as particularly dangerous is Halloween. Often thought of as a holiday meant mostly for kids, there are still many costume parties for adults, which usually involve alcohol.

How to Lower Risk of Danger

  • Choose a designated driver. If this isn’t possible, call a cab or ride the bus.
  • Plan an overnight stay. It’s a great idea to give your host the keys so you don’t have access to your vehicle.
  • When driving, make sure you and all of your passengers are buckled in.
  • Call in anybody driving recklessly. Dial 911 and tell them your location and license plate number of the driver of the other vehicle.
  • If you don’t want to drink, make sure non-alcoholic drinks are present at parties.
  • If someone you know has a substance abuse history, avoid places that could halt recovery.
  • Use your defensive driving skills, especially during the holiday nights. The key to defensive driving is being aware of both your own driving and the driving of others on the road.
  • Look into community programs designed to give free rides for people who may be too intoxicated to drive.

If you want to have a safe and fun holiday, make sure you practice the advice given above. Keep in mind that there are many people out there who may be driving intoxicated, and try to avoid any situations that may put you in their way.