By now, you are probably far more familiar with the concept of “Black Friday” than you ever wanted to be. Early mornings, crowded stores, long lines, and savage fellow shoppers characterize the day after Thanksgiving. If you need a little liquid courage to brace yourself for the insanity of Black Friday and a Thanksgiving dinner with family, you’re not alone. Although less infamous than Black Friday, Blackout Wednesday can be even more dangerous. The best way to protect yourself is to be informed and be prepared.

What You Should Know

The term “Blackout Wednesday” refers to the prevalence of drinking on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. For many people, drinking the night before Thanksgiving is as much of a tradition as shopping the morning after. If you think about the over-indulgence that often lies behind how we spend Black Friday and Thanksgiving itself, it isn’t hard to see how that theme has expanded to include our drinking habits on Wednesday. With no work the next day, a four-day weekend to celebrate, and perhaps anxiety about spending the day with relatives you only see once or twice a year, it is the perfect storm for binge-drinking.

In recent years, Blackout Wednesday has even begun to rival more well-known drinking holidays, such as the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. That statement isn’t a bluff or an estimate. Although calculating exactly how much people drink could pose a challenge, direct comparisons can be made through a darker but more easily quantified statistic: drunk driving fatalities.

What You Should Do

Because of all this, be sure to drive carefully this Wednesday night. More drunk drivers will be on the road, and you should keep that in mind while traveling. Remember everything you learned in Driver’s Ed about defensive driving and put that information to good use. This isn’t a night to take chances with your safety. Your family should be spending Thanksgiving counting their blessings and enjoying good food, not bailing you out of jail — or planning your funeral.

Drugged driving, even if the drug itself is legal, comes with the same risks and consequences as drunk driving. Law enforcement officers know what driving under the influence looks like — and they will be looking. Even if you’ve never heard of Blackout Wednesday before, they certainly have. In response, there will be a heightened focus on preventing drunk or drugged driving, including sobriety checkpoints.

This means two things. First, if you do plan on drinking, either make sure you have a designated driver or plan to use public transportation. To make things easier, Colorado’s Department of Transportation has set up promotional codes with Uber and Lyft for first-time users. Use the code CDOTRideSafe (Lyft) or NODUICO (Uber) to receive a $20 credit to your account. Second, those who won’t be participating in Blackout Wednesday should drive carefully – not only to avoid an accident, but because the odds of being seen and cited for other infractions, such as speeding, will be higher.

We all know how dangerous Black Friday can be, but Thanksgiving’s other bookend, Blackout Wednesday, can be even more deadly. Be smart this Blackout Wednesday, and play it safe with both your drinking habits and your driving habits.

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