According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, New Year's Day consistently ranks among the deadliest days to be on the road due to alcohol-related traffic incidents.
Maryland State Police said that last year, there were six fatalities between Dec. 30 and Jan. 3. Troopers will be on the roadways this year with increased presence, according to a statement released Friday, Dec. 28, indicating that every trooper on patrol will be on alert for alcohol-impaired drivers.
“The 171 alcohol related deaths last year in Maryland are tragic reminders that drunk drivers continue to be a significant threat on our roads," Col. Marcus Brown of Maryland State Police said. "There is no excuse for drunk driving and we will accept none. Drunk drivers will be arrested and charged, hopefully before they have caused another tragedy.”
To help reduce the number of drunk-driving and alcohol-related traffic deaths, AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following safety tips for New Year's Eve and Day:
- 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’ve 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.
- Take the keys from friends or family members who may be impaired
- Use mass transit or call a taxi. (Please note: the Tipsy?Taxi! program in Baltimore will not be operating this year.)
- 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.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 40 percent of traffic fatalities on New Year's and Christmas involve a driver impaired by alcohol. Here, NIAAA also debunks a few common myths about "sobering up."
Myth: You can drive as long as you are not slurring your words or acting erratically.
Fact: The coordination needed for driving is compromised long before the signs of intoxication are visible. Plus, the sedative effects of alcohol increase the risk of nodding off or losing attention behind the wheel.
Myth: Drink coffee. Caffeine will sober you up.
Fact: Caffeine may help with drowsiness, but not with the effects of alcohol on decision-making or coordination. The body needs time to metabolize (break down) alcohol and then to return to normal. There are no quick cures—only time will help.