Eskenazi Health stresses smart choices about drinking this holiday season

Indianapolis, Dec. 28, 2016 – According to the National Transportation Safety Board, on average, 728 people are injured or killed in drunk-driving crashes each day during the holiday season. In addition, overall alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased by 3.2 percent, from 9,943 in 2014 to 10,265 in 2015. 

Holiday parties and New Year’s events provide a social atmosphere where alcohol is often consumed. The Smith Level I Shock Trauma Center at Eskenazi Health, one of only three adult Level I trauma centers in the state, hopes to educate others about preventable alcohol-related injuries this holiday season. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 people in the United States die every day in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 53 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.

Alcohol requires no digestion and is absorbed right into the bloodstream. The effects of alcohol consumption can be felt quickly and have been proven to impact a person's thinking, judgment, reasoning and reflex activity.  

“Unfortunately, we see alcohol-related injuries increase during the holiday season, but we hope that more drivers will pay closer attention to the public education efforts designed to build awareness of the dangers commensurate with the irresponsible consumption of alcohol,” said Dr. Ben Zarzaur, medical director of the Smith Level I Shock Trauma Center. “While the holidays generally bring an increase in drunk driving accidents, we also see other alcohol consumption injuries brought on by careless operation of machinery and other accidents.”

In order to keep your consumption to a minimum and delay the effects of alcohol, doctors say to try and pace yourself. Eating high-protein foods while you drink will help slow the absorption of alcohol into your system. Also, know how much alcohol you can handle without losing control, and cut yourself off before you reach that limit.

“The consequences of injuries stemming from alcohol abuse are terrible and can be devastating to family members,” Dr. Zarzaur said. “Many times drunk driving affects more people than just the offender as frequently the horrible consequences of such reckless behavior extend to other drivers, passengers, pedestrians and their families.”
Last but not least, if you plan on drinking while you are out, do not drive. Arrange for a designated driver to pick you up and drive you home.

Another concern motorists need to be aware of is that traffic fatalities have increased dramatically recently, with the main reason believed to be individuals paying attention to their cell phones while driving. According to the National High way Transportation Safety Administration, fatal crashes in 2015 were up 7.5 percent from the previous year, which is the highest leap in 50 years. In Indiana, there was a nearly 10 percent rise; 745 Hoosiers died in 2014 and 823 died the next year. 

Eskenazi Health treats more than 2,500 trauma patients each year and became the first verified 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.

Level I trauma centers are committed to injury prevention, public education and continuing training of the trauma team members as well as continued improvement through a comprehensive quality assessment program and an organized research effort to help direct new innovations in trauma care. 


Requests for interviews with a staff member or physician at Eskenazi Health may be made by calling Tom Surber at 317.880.4793, by paging 317.310.5972 or by emailing

CONTACT: Tom Surber

Phone: 317.880.4793
Pager: 317.310.6589

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