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Thanksgiving: A Time of Drink, Driving and Danger

The day before Thanksgiving—and this weekend in general—is a black spot for alcohol binges and drunk driving, particularly for the young.

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By Luke Walker

11/23/11

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One of the lesser-known traditions of Thanksgiving comes the day before it: it's known by law enforcement, and of course the media, as Black Wednesday. It's one of the biggest partying nights of the year and many across the nation, young and old, come to grief through excess alcohol. According to the National Health Institute, an estimated 10.8 million underage drinkers binge on Black Wednesday. That stat is fueled by orgy-like college parties, but also by enabling parents: during the holidays moms and dads tend to lower their guard on underage drinking, particularly when it comes to the joyous return of their much-missed babies from college. Experts warn against showing your affection by letting your kids booze. National highway statistics, indicating that alcohol-related traffic incidents surge by as much as 25% during the holidays, underline this advice. Of drivers involved in fatal accidents, those aged 21-24 are most likely to be over the blood alcohol limit—at 34.5%—but 18.8% of those aged 16-20 involved in fatal crashes are also at or above .08% BAC. “Holidays, in general, tend to provide more of an opportunity for minors to drink because it's more accessible and available to them," says Lisa Hutcheson, director of the nonprofit Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking. “It's very naïve for parents to think if they are allowing their kids to drink at home that this is the only place they are drinking." 

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