Drunk Drivers Cause World of Hurt on New Year’s

Drunk Drivers Cause World of Hurt on New Year’s

Drunk Drivers Cause World of Hurt on New Year’s

Drunk Drivers Cause World of Hurt on New Year’sMost people most of the time realize that drinking and driving don’t mix. Even on New Year’s Eve, many will practice restraint in order to keep themselves and everyone else safe—or rely on designated drivers if they choose to abandon their inhibitions. But as has been proven time and again, when people are under the influence of alcohol—or any other intoxicating substance—caution tends to get tossed into the wind.

It is a sad guarantee that over the New Year’s holiday, millions of people will get behind the wheel of an automobile in a less-than-sober condition—often in the wee hours of the morning—without truly comprehending how much danger they are putting themselves, their passengers and their fellow drivers in. When tipsy, their sense of reality becomes badly distorted.

Most swear it will never happen to them. But does anyone really know his or her own limits? Or understand how quickly the ability to drive can become compromised under the influence of even a middling amount of alcohol? Another problem is that people often underestimate how much liquor they’ve consumed—especially at parties and celebrations—and they think they are OK to drive when nothing could be further from the truth.

Impaired Driving Statistics for New Year’s Eve

Over 40 percent of all traffic accidents in the United States are alcohol-related. Many of the drivers responsible for these crashes were over the legal blood-alcohol content limit of .08 at the time of their mishaps, but many were not, proving that impaired driving begins long before legal standards of drunkenness are breached.

Including victims as well as perpetrators, three out of 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related accident during their lifetimes, all but guaranteeing that every family will be touched by this category of preventable tragedy. Car accidents caused by impaired driving are five times more likely to happen after sundown, in part because conditions are more dangerous and in part because more drunk drivers tend to be out and about in the evenings. Drivers between the ages of 21 and 34 are responsible for more than 50 percent of the alcohol-related automobile crashes that involve fatalities.

At any time these numbers are sobering—or at least they should be sobering. But the New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day holiday gives an unwelcome boost to all of the statistics just mentioned. Night-time driving is common, as is overindulgence in alcohol, and a good portion of both occur after the clock has struck midnight. Young adults are overrepresented among New Year’s Eve revelers, and traffic density is much higher in general than it would be on a normal winter night.

The total death toll during the typical New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day driving period is not as high as a few other holidays, most notably the 4th of July. But New Year’s has a higher percentage of its traffic accidents linked to alcohol consumption than any other celebration. Fully 50 percent of the car crashes that occur during this period will involve legally drunk drivers who would be subject to arrest if pulled over by the police. According to one National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration report, the number of people killed in New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve crashes is 50 percent higher than would be expected on a normal December day, while the risk of a person dying as a result of the actions of a drunk driver increases by 12 percent.

Want to Stay Safe on New Year’s? Celebrate at Home

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are dangerous times to be out driving, even for those who have not been consuming alcohol. Drinking and driving, or drugging and driving, are unacceptable under any circumstances. But as the calendar changes from 2014 to 2015, the threat these activities will present to the health and safety of the American people is appalling.

Anyone who goes out on New Year’s could end up in the morgue; that may sound like hyperbole, but it is an undisputable fact. More pedestrians die on New Year’s Day than on any other day of the year, and many are killed—as you would guess—by drunk drivers. So even on foot, the risks are great.

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