Hamilton, NJ – As New Jerseyans prepare for New Year’s celebrations, AAA Mid-Atlantic is reminding drivers and passengers alike of the dangers on the roads this New Year’s Day, which consistently ranks among the year’s deadliest days for alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,497 people died in drunk driving crashes in 2016, which is an average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 50 minutes. Last year, 137 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes in New Jersey, an increase of 27 percent over the 108 who perished in 2015.
December is a particularly dangerous month for impaired driver crashes across the country, according to NHTSA. Over the past five years, an average of 300 people died in drunk-driving crashes nationwide during the Christmas through New Year’s holiday period. In December 2016 alone, 781 people lost their lives in drunk-driving crashes.
“With people celebrating the New Year and then getting behind the wheel after a night of drinking, January 1 is a particularly dangerous day on the roads, said Tracy E. Noble, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Even one death is far too many to be lost from a completely preventable crime.”
To strengthen efforts to protect the public against drunk drivers and reduce alcohol-related traffic deaths, AAA Mid-Atlantic is offering important safety advice to New Year’s Eve partygoers:
- Always plan ahead to designate a non-drinking driver before any party or celebration begins.
- Never get behind the wheel of a car when you have been drinking alcohol – even after just one drink.
- Never ride as a passenger in a car driven by someone who has been drinking alcohol – even after just one drink.
- Do not hesitate to take the keys from friends or family members who may be impaired.
- Use mass transit, Uber, Lyft, or call a taxi. Put numbers for local cab/ridesharing companies in your phone before heading out for the evening.
- Be a responsible host in reminding guests to stay safe and always offer alcohol-free beverages.
- If you encounter an impaired driver on the road, keep a safe distance and ask a passenger to call 911 (or pull over to a safe location to make the call yourself).
- Remember: prescription, over-the-counter medications and illegal drugs also can impair your ability to drive safely.