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Celebrate New Year's Eve safely


Sat, Dec 28th 2019 10:30 am

AAA has sobering facts on impaired driving and tips to stay safe over the holiday

By AAA of Western and Central New York

AAA wants to remind everyone to be extra vigilant this holiday season and to enjoy New Year’s Eve festivities responsibly.

Drunk and drug-impaired driving are serious issues impacting traffic safety year-round; yet, it worsens over the holidays. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “During the New Year’s and Christmas periods in 2018, there were 285 drunk-driving-related fatalities.”

AAA Western and Central New York recognizes the impact that more than 50 years of public education efforts against alcohol-impaired driving have had across the country.

“AAA has made traffic safety a priority since 1921, working to make roads, vehicles and drivers safer,” said Tony Spada, AAA WCNY president and CEO.

Those campaigns helped to achieve changes to alcohol-impaired driving laws, increased enforcement, and, critically, a shift in public attitudes and behaviors toward drinking and driving.

Although much more still needs to be done, anti-drunk driving campaigns and related efforts have helped cut the number of alcohol-impaired crash fatalities in half since the 1980s, according to the National Institutes of Health. AAA is reminding motorists to be aware of the dangers of drunk driving, especially before they get caught up in holiday excitement and to plan ahead to avoid getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

Like drunk driving awareness, AAA aims to raise awareness of the seriousness of drug-impaired driving with PreventDUI.AAA.com since driving while drug-impaired has the same tragic outcomes.

NHTSA’s 2017 data show that drug-impairment was the cause of several fatal crashes. Moreover, 45% of the drivers who lost their lives, and were tested for drugs, tested positive.

Drug impairment involves illegal and legal substances, over-the-counter medications and prescriptions. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Roadwise RX is a resource for motorists to check their medications’ side effects to ensure they can drive safely.

Being prepared is essential. Abstaining from alcohol and substances or having a safe ride home are two options that allow you to enjoy the holidays while being responsible. It’s imperative that drivers take steps to stay off the road if they are impaired.

Follow these tips to keep roads safer for drivers, passengers and pedestrians:

For drivers

  • Choose a designated driver before you go out.
  • Use a ridesharing service.
  • Use a local taxi service.
  • Stay with a friend or book a nearby hotel room if you are impaired.
  • Visit Roadwise Rx to see how your medications affect safe driving.

For hosts

  • Offer non-alcoholic drink options and never serve minors.
  • Stop serving alcohol well before the party ends.
  • Remind guests to plan ahead and designate a sober driver.
  • Don’t be afraid to take car keys away from guests who are too impaired to drive.
  • Help arrange alternate transportation or accommodations for guests who need it.

For everyone

  • Always wear your seat belt

The NHSTA estimates almost 15,000 lives were saved in 2017, and out of the 37,000 people fatally harmed in crashes, 47% were not wearing seat belts.

If you spot someone who appears to be an impaired driver when you are on the road, keep a safe distance and call 9-1-1 if it is safe to do so. Do not attempt to stop the vehicle yourself.

As a reminder, AAA WCNY does not participate in Safe Ride/Tipsy Tow.

As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 885,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.

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