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Tips for Staying Safe on the Roads on New Year’s Eve

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Drive sober or get pulled overThe Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) says there is no excuse to drink and drive on New Year’s Eve. “At least 1,310 drivers in Colorado will be starting off the New Year facing the consequences and expense of a DUI arrest that occurred since a holiday season DUI crackdown began Thanksgiving week,” DOT writes in a Dec. 27 statement.

The department says that unfortunately, it expects more arrests as “The Heat is On” crackdown will have intensified over the weekend leading up to New Year’s Eve, with 90 law enforcement agencies across the state increasing patrols and saturation patrols.

The DOT writes:

All too often, holiday festivities take a deadly turn when person chooses to drink alcohol and then get behind the wheel. In the last two weeks of December 2010, 415 people were killed in traffic crashes involving alcohol in the U.S., and 6 of those deaths were in Colorado.

This year from Nov. 22 through Dec. 26, preliminary reports show there have been 35 traffic fatalities in Colorado, 14 were alcohol-related.

In the Grand Junction Free Press, Caitlin Row quotes Mesa County Sheriff’s Office Spokeswoman Heather Benjamin as suggesting partiers plan ahead: “Call a cab, establish a sober designated driver, spend the night. Depending on the outside temperatures, people will most likely want to avoid extended time outside.”

Consumer Reports‘ Liza Barth reports that although 27 states had a decreases in alcohol-related fatalities in 2011, three states — Colorado, Florida, and New Jersey — had increases of 30 or more. She notes that there is a nationwide seasonal drunk driving campaign, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” running throughout the new year, in which police will be out in force, catching offenders at traffic stops and getting the word out that drinking and driving are a dangerous combination.

CDOT writes:

This New Year’s Eve, CDOT is once again partnering with MillerCoors and RTD which are offering alternative transportation options to Colorado drivers along the Front Range. MillerCoors is offering $10 cab vouchers at select bars and restaurants in Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland. In the Denver area, MillerCoors is encouraging people to call 1-800-TAXICAB, a national taxi dispatch service which helps locate the nearest cab company to you. [...]

In addition to cab vouchers, MillerCoors and RTD are providing free transit rides on New Year’s Eve in the Denver metro area. The free rides start at 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and run through 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Although the rides will be free, scheduled service hours are not extended.

Consumer Reports offers the following tips:

  • Coffee won’t help when you’re inebriated. It’s a myth that coffee can help sober you up. Only time can do that, so stay put until you recover.
  • Line up a designated driver who will stay sober and be responsible for getting you home safely.
  • Drop off your keys. If you don’t have a designated driver, give someone your car keys so you are not tempted to drive after drinking.
  • Pack a bag. Bring an overnight bag with you so you are prepared to spend the night or at least sleep until you are sober and can drive home. Make it part of your plans.
  • Use public transportation. Most cities will have more buses and trains running on New Year’s Eve. Or take a cab or share one to reduce costs.
  • Make sure your kids know the rules on drinking and driving, and know where they are if they are going to be with friends on New Year’s Eve.
  • Walking is not safer. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the first day of the new year has the highest number of pedestrians killed, more than any other day of the year. If you must walk, go in a group and wear visible clothing, so drivers can see you.

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