Eskenazi Health Warns of the Dangers of Alcohol-Related and Distracted Driving

Indianapolis, Dec. 29, 2022 – New Year’s events provide a social atmosphere where alcohol is often consumed. Alcohol-related automobile crashes resulting in serious injuries and sometimes death occur throughout the calendar year, but New Year’s celebrations bring an increased risk with more people than normal out celebrating.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), sober driving will be critical, as alcohol typically is involved in an estimated 38% of fatalities during the holiday season.

“Injuries resulting from impaired driving during the holiday season are a way too common occurrence and we hope more individuals will be conscientious enough to understand the risks of drinking and driving,” said Erik Streib, medical director of the Eskenazi Health Smith Level I Shock Trauma Center. “We encourage everyone ingesting alcohol to make plans in advance to ensure that whoever is driving will not be drinking and will do everything possible to provide safe transportation. The safest choice is to stay off the roads entirely, or to arrange for a place to stay as part of your holiday plans.”

The NSC estimates that 798 people may be killed on the roadways during the upcoming holidays; 371 during the Christmas holiday driving period, and an additional 427 during the New Year's holiday driving period. That number would likely be significantly higher if not for seat belts, which are estimated to save more than 310 lives over the same driving periods. In 2020, 90% of front seat passengers used seat belts. If 100% of seated occupants wear their seat belts, it's estimated an additional 180 lives could be saved over the holidays.

People who don’t often drink and who have a lower tolerance for alcohol tend to drink and get on the roads this time of year. Likewise, people with serious drinking problems sometimes drink more because others are drinking around them. An increased tendency to drink combined with hazardous winter road conditions is a recipe for disaster.

According to the United States Department of Transportation, your life and the lives of others on the road are at risk every time a driver gets behind the wheel after drinking. Here are a few tips to help you and your loved ones stay safe:

  • Before drinking, choose a designated driver, or schedule a ride-sharing or taxi service.
  • If you are hosting a party where there’s alcohol, offer non-alcoholic drink options and make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.
  • Always wear your seat belt – it’s the best defense against drunk drivers.
  • If you see what appears to be a drunk driver on the road, safely pull over and call law enforcement.

The dangers of drunk driving, especially during the holidays, are increased dramatically by individuals paying attention to their cell phones while driving, mostly for texting purposes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), a five-second glimpse while sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road, and at 55 mph, it’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. It’s impossible to drive safely unless your full attention is on the task of operating your motor vehicle, and any distraction will dramatically increase your risk of crashing.

Eskenazi Health treats more than 2,000 trauma patients each year and became the first verified adult Level I trauma center in the state in 1992. A Level I trauma center is a comprehensive regional resource that is central to the trauma system. Trauma centers verified as Level I are capable of providing total care for every aspect of injury, from prevention to rehabilitation. Key elements of a Level I trauma center include 24-hour, in-house coverage by trauma surgeons and prompt availability of care in specialties such as orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, internal medicine and critical care.


For more than 160 years, Eskenazi Health has provided high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered health care to Central Indiana. Accredited by The Joint Commission, nationally recognized programs include a Level I trauma center, regional burn center, comprehensive senior care program, women’s and children’s services, teen and adolescent care programs, Lifestyle Health & Wellness Center, Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center, and a network of primary care sites located throughout the neighborhoods of Indianapolis known as Eskenazi Health Center. Eskenazi Health also serves as the sponsoring hospital for Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services. As the public hospital division of the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County (HHC), Eskenazi Health partners with the Indiana University School of Medicine whose physicians provide a comprehensive range of primary and specialty care services. In 2013, the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital opened, providing a new modern and efficient facility and becoming Central Indiana’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold health care campus.

CONTACT: Brian Van Bokkelen

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