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Celebrate New Year's Eve responsibly: AAA urges public to end 2023 safely


Thu, Dec 28th 2023 04:40 pm

By AAA of Western and Central New York

AAA Western and Central New York encourages motorists to be extra vigilant this holiday season and to celebrate responsibly. New Year’s Eve festivities can be tempting, and AAA urges drivers not to drink and drive. AAA reminds partygoers to plan ahead with a designated driver, ride sharing, or overnight accommodations.

As an advocate for traffic safety for generations, AAA supports public education efforts against alcohol-impaired driving. AAA’s recent survey, the Traffic Safety Culture Index, shows that drivers overwhelmingly perceive driving after drinking alcohol (94%) as very or extremely dangerous, and 68% believe such a driver would be likely to be apprehended by police. Only 7% of respondents reported having engaged in this behavior in the past 30 days. However, the latest numbers from NHTSA show that, every day, about 37 people in the U.S. die in drunk-driving crashes – that's one person every 39 minutes. In 2021, 13,384 people died in alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths – a 14% increase from 2020. 

Here are some of the ways in which drinking a 12-ounce beer over the course of one hour can affect a 150-pound adult:

•After one drink, inhibitions are lowered. A person may be less critical of him or herself and others, and judgment begins to be affected. Coordination may also be affected. (BAC: 0.02-0.03%).

•After two drinks, reaction time will be slower. A person may appear relaxed and friendly. Reaction time begins to slow. (BAC: 0.04-0.05%).

•After three drinks, judgment is not sound. A person will not think clearly and may do or say rude or unreasonable things, and reasoning is less reliable. Reaction time slows down. (BAC: 0.06-0.07%).

•After four drinks, hearing, speech, vision and balance are adversely affected. A person may have difficulty enunciating words. As eye muscles become more relaxed, focusing and tracking becomes more difficult. Although the drinker may not be aware of it, reaction time is greatly slowed. (BAC: 0.08-0.09%).

•After five drinks, most behaviors are affected. Body parts do not seem to work together. Speech may be slurred. Performing any task that requires the use of hands and feet is difficult. Walking without stumbling also is difficult. (BAC: 0.10-0.11%).

•After 12 drinks, a 150-pound person’s BAC would be about 0.30%. At this level, a coma or deep sleep is not unusual. If there is enough alcohol in the stomach when the person passes out, the blood-alcohol level will continue to rise. If the BAC reaches 0.40%, they may fall into a deep coma and die.

There’s also a growing problem with drug-impaired driving, especially with recreational marijuana use in New York. The AAA survey found that only 70% of drivers perceive driving (within an hour) after using marijuana as very or extremely dangerous, and 26% believe such a driver would be likely to be apprehended by police. Only 6% of respondents reported having engaged in this behavior in the past 30 days.

Abstaining from alcohol and substances or having a safe ride home are two options that allow revelers to enjoy the holidays while being responsible. It’s imperative that drivers take steps to stay off the road if they are impaired. Travelers who need a hotel to safely spend the night can find area hotel prices via the AAA mobile app. AAA WCNY does not participate in the “Safe Ride/Tipsy Tow “program that is offered in other parts of the country.

As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 862,000 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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