TOPEKA and WICHITA, Kan. – Dec. 27, 2018 – As Kansans prepare for New Year’s celebrations, AAA Kansas is reminding drivers and passengers alike of the dangers on the roads this New Year’s Eve, which consistently ranks among the year’s deadliest days for alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,874 people died in drunk driving crashes in all of 2017, which is an average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 48 minutes. In Kansas, 90 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2017, accounting for 19.5 percent of all traffic fatalities.
December is a particularly dangerous month for impaired driver crashes across the country, according to NHTSA. Over the past five years, an average of 300 people died in drunk-driving crashes nationwide during the Christmas through New Year’s holiday period. For the entire month of December 2017, 885 people lost their lives in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver.
According to the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) statistics from the 2017-18 New Year’s reporting period (Fri.-Mon., 78 hours) 40 percent of the fatality crashes in Kansas were alcohol related. More than one in ten injury crashes during the period involved alcohol.
AAA Kansas is warning of the dangers of drunk and buzzed driving this holiday season and urging revelers, party hosts and drivers to take responsibility and action to avoid alcohol related crashes and fatalities.
“New Year’s Eve celebrations with plenty of alcohol are around the corner, so it’s important to plan ahead to avoid having yourself or one of your guests become a tragic holiday statistic due to driving while impaired,” said Shawn Steward, AAA Kansas spokesman.
Tips for Party Hosts
AAA Kansas’ provides the following ABC’s of party hosting to make drunk driving less likely:
A - Alcohol Awareness
Ask your guests to choose a designated driver for the evening. Have a car key collection when your guests arrive. Mix drinks yourself and avoid open bars. Stop serving alcohol 90 minutes before the party is over.
B - Buffet
Always serve high protein foods such as meats and cheeses. They stay in the stomach longer and slow down the rate of intoxication. Starchy foods are great too. Minimize salt. Salt makes people thirsty and speeds up intoxication. Always provide non-alcoholic beverages such as “mocktails,” soft drinks, juices and punch.
C - Carpool
Remember: only TIME will make your guests sober. It takes one hour for the body to process the average drink. 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer and 1.5 ounces of liquor contain about the same amount of alcohol. Keep watch on behavior. Arrange a cab or ride share service (such as Lyft or Uber), ride with a designated driver, or invite intoxicated friends to sleep over. For irate guests, “hide” their keys until they have found another ride home.
Tips for New Year’s Revelers
Preventing drinking and driving is a shared responsibility to save lives. New Year’s Eve partygoers can do their part by heeding the following advice from AAA Kansas:
- 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
- Do not hesitate to take the keys from friends or family members who may be impaired
- Call a taxi or arrange a Lyft or Uber ride for you or a friend in need. Install mobile apps or put numbers for local cab/ridesharing companies in your phone before heading out for the evening.
- If you encounter an impaired driver on the road, keep a safe distance and ask a passenger to call 911 (or pull over so 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.
“If you choose to drink alcohol, don’t drive. If you have to drive, don’t drink alcohol,” reiterated AAA Kansas’ Steward. “DUI arrests and the tragic crashes that often result from impaired driving can easily be avoided if everyone is aware of the issue and makes good choices and makes sure alternatives are available, including rides or designated drivers and non-alcoholic beverages.”
Visit PreventDUI.AAA.com for impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice.