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.”

Responsible Behavior

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.

Visit PreventDUI.AAA.com for impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice.  AAA encourages visitors to Take the Pledge to drive drug and alcohol-free.