You packed up your suitcase and survived the drive back to your hometown. Leaving a day early helped you avoid the traffic, and you’re looking forward to catching up with old friends that you only see a couple of times a year. But what you may not know is that you’re celebrating a lesser-known holiday: Black Wednesday. The night before Thanksgiving, commonly called “the biggest bar night of the year,” is a celebration in itself—but unfortunately, the increase in bar customers causes a spike in traffic accidents nationwide.

Here are a few sobering facts about drunk driving deaths on Black Wednesday:

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,500 people died in car accidents from 2000 to 2009 over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Roughly a third of these deaths were attributed to drunken driving, resulting in the highest number of drunk driving accidents of any holiday.
  • Data from NHTSA confirms that more alcohol-related driving deaths occurred on Thanksgiving Eve than on New Year’s Eve in at least four of the past five years.
  • In its yearly push for safe holiday driving, Mothers Against Drunk Driving warns that excessive drinking over the holidays begins with the day before Thanksgiving.

Five Ways to Avoid a Drunk Driving Crash the Night Before Thanksgiving

A little preparation can go a long way toward avoiding an accident on Black Wednesday. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you set out to celebrate with old friends:

Designate a driver.

Choose someone in your party who will remain sober the whole night. Make sure to thank them by keeping their non-alcoholic drinks—or a dessert—coming.

Get on board.

If your city offers public transportation, this is a perfect opportunity to use it. Buses and trains are usually on regular schedules the day before Thanksgiving, many of which can drop you off right downtown.

Get techy.

Save the numbers of a few local cab services in your phone before you leave the house—rather than attempt to look them up on your smartphone when you’ve had a few drinks. Better yet, download a ride-share or designated driver smartphone app (such as Uber) to avoid a long wait for a cab.

Ride in style.

If you plan on being out all night, consider hiring a limousine or car service to take you and your friends from bar to bar. It may be pricey, but your friends will be glad they don’t have to walk in the cold.

Sleep it off.

Did you get a hotel room for your visit? Offer to share it with someone who is unable to drive home. An early morning drive is better than a late-night crash, even if they have to sleep on a sofa.

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