Risks of Drinking
and Driving Higher During Holidays
December 19, 2002 (Release 02-157)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information, contact:
Rosalie Thornburgh or Pati Pomeroy
KDOT Bureau of Traffic Safety: (785) 296-3756
Risks of Drinking and Driving Higher During Holidays
‘Tis the season to be careful. That’s especially the case when considering
the added risks when getting behind the wheel of a car:
- Distracted shoppers rush from store to store to finish last-minute
- Highways are more crowded as people travel to visit family and
- High schools and colleges are on winter breaks, thereby putting
more young drivers on the road.
- Winter weather – and therefore roadways – can turn
ugly at any time.
And then there’s the drinking thing, often in the form of holiday parties,
where family and friends get together to celebrate the season, often over adult
beverages. As part of its Care/Call Campaign (Care About Underage Drinking;
Make the Right Call), the Kansas Department of Transportation is reminding drivers
of all ages of the dangers and consequences of drinking and driving.
“When you throw alcohol into a mix that includes heavy traffic and inexperienced
drivers and bad weather, you really create a recipe for potential tragedy,”
said Rosalie Thornburgh, chief of KDOT’s Bureau of Traffic Safety.
Unfortunately, the availability of alcoholic beverages at private get-togethers
during the holiday season can be an opportunity for curious teenagers looking
to kick up their heels during their school breaks.
“Car crashes are the leading cause of death for people between 16 and
24 years old,” Thornburgh said. “Many of those crashes involve alcohol.”
U.S. statistics show that for every 100,000 licensed drivers, young drinking
drivers are involved in fatal crashes at approximately twice the rate of drivers
age 21 and older.
Adults who furnish alcohol to minors, or who allow teenagers to drink in their
homes – even if they don’t know the drinking is occurring –
can incur criminal and civil liability. Underage possession or use of alcoholic
beverages also is illegal, Thornburgh said.
“Under Kansas’ Zero Tolerance policy, it’s illegal in Kansas
for anyone under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle when they have a blood
alcohol content of .02 or above. The legal limit is .08 for adults.
“The reason the threshold is so low is that even small amounts of alcohol
are dangerous, especially for young, inexperienced drivers,” Thornburgh
said. “According to national statistics, more 18-year-olds die in low
blood alcohol concentration alcohol related crashes than individuals of any
First-time offenders face a 30-day drivers suspension and a 330-day license
restriction. Second offenders lose their licenses for a year. Simply possessing
alcoholic beverages can mean a 30-day drivers license suspension.
KDOT is a member of the Governor’s Substance
Abuse Prevention Council united in the vision that Kansas communities become
places where all children are safe, protected, nurtured, and supported in reaching
their fullest potential.
*Color copies of the attached charts are available at: