12/31/17 — AAA Carolinas: Have a plan, don't drink and drive

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AAA Carolinas: Have a plan, don't drink and drive

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on December 31, 2017 3:05 AM

Picture it.

New Year's Eve -- your family and close friends are all around you.

The clock gets closer to striking midnight.

You refresh your glass of champagne, letting the warm, fuzzy feeling of intoxication slip over you.

You chat with everyone, maybe discussing what your resolutions will be as 2017 slips into the past and 2018 looms ahead.

Glasses clink.

Noisemakers wail.

The new year begins.

And now you need to figure out a way to get home.

If you're smart, your first new year's resolution will be figuring out a safe way to get home after the clock marks the arrival of 2018, and you won't get behind the wheel of a car.

"Don't start 2018 with a tragedy," said Dave Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "Have a plan before you go out for the night by designating a sober driver or utilizing a ride sharing service such as Uber or Lyft to ensure a safe holiday for you and everyone else on the road."

There were 994 crashes in North Carolina over the New Year's holiday last year -- 10 of them were fatal.

New Year's celebrations and alcohol go together better than the open road and a fast car -- but those clichés should never mix, as alcohol-related traffic accidents are always preventable.

AAA Carolinas is offering the following tips to make sure you get home safely and live to see another year:

• Decide ahead of time whether you will be drinking or driving -- you cannot do both.

• Plan your ride home before the night begins -- whether that be designating a sober driver or planning to use a taxi service/ride sharing service.

• Download a ride-sharing app for convenience. Play around with the app to familiarize yourself with it.

• Be aware of those around you. If you see someone getting behind the wheel intoxicated, take their keys and assist them in finding a safe ride home.

• If you are hosting a party with alcohol, be a responsible host. Allow guests to stay the night if need be or find them a safe ride home.

• Stop serving alcohol at least an hour before your guests go home.

• If you see a driver on the road who you suspect is impaired, pull over to a safe spot and call 911 -- giving police a description of the vehicle.

The driving agency also recommends that drivers be aware of pedestrians who may be stumbling their way home or jaywalking and disobeying traffic signals.

Alcohol's impairing effect on coordination and attention puts drunk pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a car.

People bar hopping and walking home are encouraged to keep an eye out for motorists, cross only at designated intersections and obey walking signals.

Law enforcement is conducting a Booze It & Lose It campaign through Jan. 1 -- an annual operation that seeks to crack down on drunk drivers and get them off the road.

Goldsboro Police Chief Mike West said there is the possibility of several checkpoints throughout the county over the holiday weekend.

West reinforced that people should never drink and drive, and also recommended calling police if you see any suspicious or illegal happening.

He also offered the following tips:

• Monitor your alcohol intake: Many people associate New Year's Eve celebrations with drinking. Be aware of how much you are drinking. Make sure you stay hydrated (with water) and that you eat enough.

• If you have a friend who is too drunk to drive, take the keys. Get your friend a ride home with a trusted sober driver, or call his or her family for a ride.

• Going to parties, bars and clubs can be hectic, and with too much alcohol, some people lose control. Traveling in groups creates a safety net.

• Drinking and driving car crashes are highest between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m., so try and stay off the roads during those hours.