Thanksgiving: 'Blackout Wednesday' prompts drink-driving warnings

Police car
US officials have seen elevated rates of drink-driving incidents on Thanksgiving Eve

Officials are warning Americans to be cautious on 'Blackout Wednesday', the night before Thanksgiving, due to an annual spike in drink-driving crashes.

Wednesday is expected to be the heaviest drinking night of the year, prompting officials to issue warnings.

The day, which is also known as 'Drinks-giving', will see an increased police presence on roads in the US.

Other organisations are offering free or discounted trips on ride-sharing apps in an effort to reduce accidents.

In Norfolk, Virginia, a local organisation has partnered with Lyft to provide rides at a reduced rate on Wednesday to ensure "you make it to the Thanksgiving table".

The state of Maryland, meanwhile, is giving out 1,000 ride credits for Lyft, valued at $20 (£16) each, starting on Thanksgiving Eve. A foundation in New Jersey is gifting $10 ride credits to some residents.

Some police departments in smaller communities have even offered safe rides home if necessary.

Few people work on Thanksgiving in the US, meaning the night before is a popular party night. But some cities record their highest drink-driving rates of the year.

During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, between 2017 and 2021, more than 830 people died in crashes involving a drunk driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It said, ordinarily, about 37 people in the US die in drink-driving crashes every day.

The transportation department has advised Americans to plan ahead and to avoid driving even if they have only had one drink.

It encouraged them to call a friend, a taxi or ride-share company instead of getting behind the wheel.