The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 31, 2012

Party hearty but drive sober

New Year’s holiday has a deadly history

The Tribune-Democrat

— The New Year’s Eve holiday brings with it some wonderful things: The optimism that comes with a fresh start, the excitement as the ball drops and off-key-but-lovable renditions of “Auld Lang Syne.”

But, far too often, its conclusion also includes the bad: Slurred speech, twisted steel and mangled lives.

 New Year’s Day is the deadliest day for drunken driving, according to a New York Times article from last year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that half of the Jan. 1 crashes from 2005-09 involved a drunken driver. That’s far higher than any other holiday, according to the study.

That’s not the only sobering statistic.

A Liberty Mutual Insurance survey of high school juniors and seniors found that one out of every 10 teen drivers says that he or she has driven while drunk on New Year’s Eve.

It’s discouraging enough that thousands of teenagers who aren’t legally allowed to drink alcohol are getting drunk. The fact that they are then getting behind the wheel is especially frightening.

Those sets of numbers should be warning signs to everyone on the roads, sober or not.

Even if you haven’t been drinking, keep in mind that the driver of the car in the other lane might have been, so slow down and leave yourself as much reaction time as possible.

We encourage all of our readers to make safety a top priority tonight (and tomorrow morning).

You can still go out and have a good time, but please take the proper precautions.

If you’re going to be drinking, there are plenty of ways to avoid driving:

* Have a friend or loved one serve as a designated driver.

* Take a cab to and from your destination.

* Make overnight accommodations ahead of time.

Whatever you do, please don’t drink and drive.

We don’t want to ring in the new year with funeral bells.

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