When you're celebrating this New Year's Eve, keep in mind the potential for road accidents. According to the National Safety Council's estimates, 163 people may die on U.S. roads over the New Year's Day holiday period.
The safety organization releases road fatality estimates for major holidays, when people are typically traveling and often drinking alcohol. During the 2018 New Year’s Day holiday period, 39% of fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the organization.
"Holidays traditionally are a time of travel for families across the United States," the National Safety Council says on its website. "Many choose car travel, which has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation based on fatalities per passenger mile. Holidays also often are cause for celebrations involving alcohol consumption, a major contributing factor to motor vehicle crashes."
In 2020, New Year’s Day falls on a Wednesday, so the holiday period extends from 6 p.m. Tuesday, December 31 to 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, January 1. During this time, the NSC estimates more than 160 people will die in road fatalities.
In addition, the nonprofit estimates there will be 18,600 nonfatal injuries that will result from crashes over the New Year's Eve holiday period.
So how can you stay safe? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reminding people of three important things ahead of the New Year's Day holiday.
- Drive sober or get pulled over: Drunk driving is a problem on our nation’s roads every day, but it’s more prevalent during the holidays. During the New Year’s and Christmas periods in 2018, there were 285 drunk-driving-related fatalities. These deaths are 100% preventable. Last year, there were 10,511 people killed nationwide in drunk driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third of the yearly driving fatalities. The tragedy of these deaths is felt year-round, but for many, most strongly during the holidays.
- If you feel different, you drive different — drive high, get a DUI: Like drunk driving, drug-impaired driving is illegal in all 50 states. In 2017, 45% of the drivers killed in fatal crashes who were tested for drugs, tested positive. Whether the drug is obtained legally or illegally, drug-impaired driving can be deadly for drivers, passengers, and others on the road.
- Plan ahead: If you have holiday parties or festive gatherings on your calendar over the next few weeks, make smart choices and plan out how you’re going to get home safely once the celebration ends. Designate a sober driver, or plan to use public transportation or a ride-hailing service, and encourage your friends to do the same. If you are the designated driver, make a commitment to 100% sobriety to keep you and your friends safe. If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement immediately. Doing so could save the life of the driver, passenger, and others on the road. And, if you have a friend who is about to drive impaired, take away their keys and help them make arrangements to get home safely — it will be the greatest gift you ever give them.