Start the year right

Published 8:12 pm Monday, December 30, 2013

Every year, millions of people gather for New Year’s Eve parties around the country, whether out on the town or at a friend’s house.

And every year, there are problems when the time comes for those folks to find a way home.

We’d like to believe the majority of folks headed out for a night of New Year’s Eve imbibing have already made plans to stay with a friend or get a ride home from someone who chose to avoid alcohol for the evening. For those without such existing plans, we’d like to encourage you to make some right now. It is tempting after a few drinks to try and get behind the wheel to get home, and it is especially easy to think you are fine.

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While drunk driving fatalities occur all year, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows the holiday season is a particularly dangerous time on the roadways.

In 2011, 760 people lost their lives as a result of drunk-driving-related crashes during the month of December alone. During Decembers from 2007 to 2011, there were 4,169 people killed in crashes that involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 grams per deciliter or higher.

The Virginia State Police warn that when you drink and drive, you are endangering yourself, your passengers and those on the road around you. Even one drink can increase the risk of a crash while driving.

Even without the addition of alcohol to the mix, Suffolk’s roads are already plenty dangerous.

In the commonwealth of Virginia, 229 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes during 2012, a 6.53-percent decrease from 2011.

We encourage local folks to keep that statistic on the decline by thinking ahead.

To keep your holiday safe:

  • Before the party starts, plan a safe way home.
  • Before drinking, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys.
  • If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to get home safely.
  • If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact the Suffolk Police Department at 911 or the Virginia State Police by dialing #77 on your cell phone.

Drunk driving can result in arrest, loss of driving privileges, higher insurance rates, lost time at work, court costs, fines, attorney’s fees and many other unwanted consequences, such as injuries or death. Any of those outcomes would be a terrible way to start the new year.