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Staying safe on the road this holiday season

Along with the joy and excitement of the holiday season, we are also faced with the potential for icy roads, increased traffic, an increase in inexperienced teen drivers on the road during school vacation and out-of-towners visiting relatives that may not be familiar with the local roads. These factors can lead to an increase in automobile accidents and several of the top 10 deadliest days of the year to drive are in the next few weeks.

Many of these “accidents” will be alcohol related and shouldn’t be called accidents at all. According to NHTSA statistics, “about 40 percent of all fatalities during the Christmas and New Year holiday periods have occurred in crashes where at least one of the involved drivers was alcohol-impaired as compared to about 28 percent of all fatalities during the rest of December.”

How can you keep yourself and your family safe? Start by making sure that you and your loved ones are not the drunk drivers.

Party tips for you:

  1. Choose a designated driver before starting to drink.
  2. Give your car keys to a friend or relative who you trust to keep you from driving if needed.
  3. If you know you must drive, refrain from drinking.
  4. Program a local taxi company’s phone number into your phone before starting the night and use it if you have any doubts about your ability to drive.

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk:

  1. Try not to be confrontational and if needed enlist the help of others to convince your friend not to drive.
  2. Suggest alternatives to driving (taxi, public transportation, etc.)
  3. If you have not been drinking, offer to drive your friend home yourself.
  4. Offer to let your friend sleep over rather than going home.
  5. If possible, take and hide their keys.
  6. If all else fails, contact the police. It is better to see your friend arrested than injured, killed or having killed another person.

Driving tips:

If you see a car weaving or zig-zagging across the road, drifting in and out of traffic lanes, driving with its headlights off or exhibiting any other signs that the driver might be impaired:

  1. Stay as far away from the vehicle as possible.
  2. Do not try to pass or signal the driver in any way.
  3. Pull over to call 911 and give as much information as you can, then let the police take it from there. You just may be saving someone’s life.

For a full list of potential signals that can indicate a drunk driver, visit MADD’s website.

Tips for holiday party hosts:

  1. NEVER serve alcohol to a minor or allow a minor to consume alcohol in your home or at your party.
  2. Have plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverage choices.
  3. If you know your guests will be drinking, collect keys at the door and give them back only to those you believe should be driving.
  4. If you don’t think you’ll be able to keep an eye on all of your guests, hire a professional bar tender. He will be able to monitor your guests and has more experience at knowing when people should be cut off.
  5. Post the numbers of local taxi companies where everyone can see it.
  6. Don’t be afraid to intervene! If you see someone about to get in the car that should not be driving, do whatever you can to prevent them from driving. See the list above “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” for tips on how to keep someone from driving drunk. Some states have laws that could make you criminally or civilly responsible for the actions of guests that have been served alcohol at your party. Your guest might be mad at you in the moment, but they will thank you the next day and even more important, you may have saved their life or the lives of others.

We hope you have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season. Remember that in case of an accident or after suffering a serious injury your first concern should always be the well-being, health and safety of your family. Before anything else, seek the appropriate medical attention. The next thing to do is give us a call or complete our personal injury checklist to get a free case evaluation. We can help determine if you and your family are entitled to compensation for your pain, suffering, lost income and medical expenses.

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