Statistics show that highway deaths increase 25% during the 26-day series of holiday celebrations known as the Guadalupe-Reyes Marathon.
According to the national statistics institute Inegi, 377 people died in traffic accidents from December 12, 2018 to January 6, 2019, yielding a daily average of 14.5 highway deaths, while the average during the rest of the year is 11.5.
Of those 377 deaths 179 were drivers, 90 were passengers, 98 were pedestrians and 14 were cyclists, while details of the other eight victims’ deaths were unspecified.
The last three Guadalupe-Reyes Marathons have left 1,028 people dead and 19,902 injured from automobile accidents.
The deadliest day of the marathon is the day it begins, when the Virgin of Guadalupe is celebrated. There were 37 highway deaths on December 12 this year, 30 on the same day in 2018, and 27 in 2017.
While not a part of Mexican religious or folkloric tradition, it is common for people to try to fit in as much partying as possible during the holiday season, which also includes nine days of posadas parties, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, New Year’s and Three Kings Day on January 6.
While increased alcohol consumption is seen as the most likely culprit behind the rise in accidents, the Inegi statistics show that only 8.5% of people who died in the previous marathon were confirmed to have consumed alcohol, while 37% did not have alcohol on their breath.
This leaves a field of 55% of victims about whom it is not known if they had been drinking.
The Association of Mexican Insurance Companies (AMIS) says that during December automobile accidents increase 20% over the yearly average, but in the last days of the month they increase 40%, and that alcohol is involved in four of every 10 accidents.
Since 2003 Mexico City has implemented a program to combat drunk driving, which has reduced the number of fatal accidents by 30%, according to the city.
In 2013 the Pan American Health Organization suggested that the program be implemented elsewhere in the country, and it is now in effect in several other states.
Although alcohol is historically the primary cause of traffic accidents, the use of mobile devices while driving has recently become the third leading cause after speeding and drunk driving.
AMIS said that 15-20% of accidents are now caused by distracted driving due to mobile device use.
It is estimated that the federal and state governments spend over 150 billion pesos (US $7.9 billion) each year on expenses generated by automobile accidents, such as hospitalization, towing, impounding, administration, expert reports and court costs.
Source: Milenio (sp)