Since we’re already busy looking at 2014 in review concerning everything from
Play-Doh to dating, let’s take a look at the year in alcohol, shall we? Mobile and smartphone breathalyzer company BACtrack recently compiled and analyzed data
from a huge swathe of its users, determining (among other things) the days on
which people had the highest average blood alcohol concentrations — or, the drunkest
days of 2014. Spoiler alert: They’re not that surprising. In fact, they’re
probably pretty much exactly what you think they are. So, y'know... consider yourselves warned.
BACtrack collected their data from the users of BACtrack Mobile and BACtrack Vio smartphone breathalyzers. This data includes almost 300,000 unique blood alcohol concentration tests performed between December of 2013 and December of 2014; all 50 states are covered, but it’s worth noting that the anonymous data is aggregated from users with the data storage feature activated and location services turned on — which means it doesn’t represent data from all of BACtrack’s users.
Fun fact: The heaviest drinking days almost all fall between the months of December and March, with the one outlier being the weekend before Cinco de Mayo in May. Here they are in order from most to least drunk, along with each of their corresponding BACs:
- New Year’s Eve: 0.094 percent
- March 15 (St. Patrick’s Day Weekend): 0.094 percent
- January 25: 0.093 percent
- February 15 (Valentine’s Day Weekend): 0.092 percent
- February 1 and 2 (Super Bowl Weekend): 0.090 and 0.091 percent
- May 3 (Cinco de Mayo Weekend): 0.090 percent
- January 18 and 19: 0.090 percent and 0.088 percent
- March 7 and 8: 0.088 percent both days
- December 6 and 7: 0.087 and 0.088 percent
Sounds about right.
Philip Bump at the Washington Post, however, took the whole thing a step further: We know when Americans are drinking the most… but when are we getting into the most trouble with drinking being a factor? To find out, Bump measured the frequency with which the phrase “alcohol appears to have been a factor” (or variations upon it) appeared in the news using the database Nexis. He then looked at the data a couple of different ways, with the first being how often it’s appeared each year since 1990 — and, well… there’s been a pretty dramatic increase over time. Head on over to WaPo to see his graph, but suffice to say that it hovers under the 100 mark from 1990 to 1998 before beginning to rise steadily over the next 16 years. In 2014, it’s almost at 500. Wowzers. Bump does note that there are a lot of things that might contribute to this distribution of the data — he cites “the increased number of sources Nexis has in its database” as well as the “increased popularity of the expression itself.” I think it’s still pretty telling, though, don’t you?
Next — and perhaps more interestingly — Bump compared the frequency of the phrase “alcohol appears to have been a factor” month to month over that same time frame. Again, see the graphical representation of it over at WaPo — but what he found was that, counter to BACtrack’s analysis, the phrase appears more frequently in the summer than in the winter. So: Maybe we’re getting drunker in the winter… but that drunkenness is resulting in more trouble in the summer. July is a particularly hot month, with over 150 mentions; Bump suspects the Fourth of July, summer picnics, college kids being home from school, and people being outside and getting into fights as possible reasons for the spike.
Head on over to BACtrack’s website to read their full report; they also looked into which cities and states have the highest and lowest average BACs, among other things, so it’s actually pretty interesting. But guys? Drink responsibly, don’t drink and drive, and all that good stuff. Safety first!