New Year’s Eve is meant to be a time of celebration, of ringing in the new and letting go of the old. For too many, however, the holiday is fraught with emergency situations or memories of past accidents that could have been avoided. Car accident attorneysremind drivers to use their best judgment tonight and to take advantage of any special New Years Eve services in their areas.
Alcohol has become nearly synonymous with New Year’s Eve celebrations, and, unfortunately, Americans tend to be less concerned with finding a sober ride home than scouting the perfect party. All 50 states are enforcing drunk driving campaigns through January 2, 2013, in which law enforcement agencies are cracking on DWI arrests, tickets, and fines. Speeding and distracted driving are major factors in many of the traffic deaths that occur during the winter holiday seasons, although they receive less media coverage. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) statistics show that in December of 2010, over 2,500 people lost their lives in traffic accidents. About 30% of those deaths involved drivers with alcohol in their systems, while the other 70% were the result of speeding, unsafe road conditions, lack of seatbelts, and distracted driving.
The holidays are a prime time for drivers to be distracted, whether by other passengers, texting, talking on the phone, reading directions, or even smoking cigarettes. Officials encourage those driving or taking to the road over the next couple of days to have a set plan of action for transportation before going out. That may entail a sober driver, public transit, or setting up lodging plans close to the celebration.
Cities throughout the nation are offering complimentary services to deter party-goers from driving home. In Chicago, the Transit Authority is reducing fares to one penny for bus and train rides. The usual $2.25 will still take effect for those using their CTA fare cards, so Chicagoans must make sure they have a penny handy while riding between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. The CTA is also extending its service hours on nine of the system’s most populated bus routes as well as the brown, green, orange, purple and pink lines. CTA customer assistants, stationed at every rail station, and bus operators will assist any riders with questions regarding the penny fare.
Numerous other cities are offering similar programs. In Virginia, towing and taxi companies are offering significantly reduced or complimentary services for those calling in between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. AAA members in Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee will be able to take part in the company’s Tow to Go program, which delivers members and their vehicles to their homes, free of charge. In fact, one report estimates that over 2,000 service providers will be offering similar programs throughout the nation to keep impaired drivers off the road.
With the excitement of the looming new year, even sober drivers may forget the importance of driving defensively and exercising all due caution on the road. President Obama designated December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, in response to NHTSA reports that one in three people killed in automobile accidents tested positive for drugs. The American public must remember that the effects of many prescription drugs change when combined with alcohol – even with just one drink.
Many law enforcement agencies are implementing a No Refusal campaign during the holiday, which allows officials to lawfully administer blood samples for those suspected of impaired driving who refuse to give samples. Police in states like Texas and Tennessee say that No Refusal has become a powerful deterrent on days like today.
Regardless of your New Year’s plans, if you’re taking to the road or the rails, always use your best judgment to protect the safety of yourself and others. Driving after a long night of partying is unacceptable, dangerous, and life-threatening. If you or anyone you loved is the victim of an impaired or distracted driving accident, contact a car crash attorney immediately in order to protect your legal rights. Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Law Firm wishes everyone a fun, festive, and above all, safe, New Year.