Cel­e­brate safely this New Year’s Eve

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Admiral -

New Year’s Eve is a time to cel­e­brate. But for hun­dreds of peo­ple each year, the week be­tween Christ­mas and New Year’s Day proves fa­tal.

Ac­cord­ing to fa­tal­ity data from the Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion, over the last five years an aver­age of 300 peo­ple died in drunk driv­ing fa­tal­i­ties be­tween Christ­mas and New Year’s Day. Hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions, and New Year’s Eve fes­tiv­i­ties in par­tic­u­lar, tend to in­clude al­co­hol, rais­ing the stakes dur­ing this fes­tive yet too of­ten fa­tal time of year.

The sobering statis­tics pro­vided by the NHTSA don’t have to pre­vent peo­ple from toast­ing a new year. In fact, there are many ways to have fun this New Year’s Eve with­out putting your­self in harm’s way.

• Don’t overindulg­e in al­co­hol. For many peo­ple, overindulg­ing in al­co­hol is part and par­cel dur­ing New Year’s Eve cel­e­bra­tions. Such be­hav­ior puts ev­ery­one at risk, even peo­ple who don’t drive. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional In­sti­tute on Al­co­hol Abuse and Al­co­holism, con­ser­va­tive es­ti­mates sug­gest that roughly one-half of sex­ual as­saults on Amer­i­can women in­volve al­co­hol con­sump­tion by the per­pe­tra­tor, vic­tim or both. While al­co­hol and its re­la­tion­ship to traf­fic fa­tal­i­ties draw the bulk of the at­ten­tion on New Year’s Eve, even peo­ple who don’t in­tend to drive should rec­og­nize the dan­gers of overindulg­ing in al­co­hol and drink re­spon­si­bly.

• Ar­range for trans­porta­tion. If you need a car to get around on New Year’s Eve and plan to drink al­co­hol, ar­range for some­one else to do your driv­ing for you. Groups of friends should choose some­one to be their des­ig­nated driver or pool their money and hire a taxi or bus ser­vice for the night so no one who’s been drink­ing gets be­hind the wheel. The NHTSA even of­fers a free app called Safer­Ride that is com­pat­i­ble with Ap­ple and An­droid de­vices and en­ables users to call a taxi or a friend to be picked up.

• Host re­spon­si­bly. Even peo­ple who don’t in­tend to leave their homes can take steps to make New Year’s Eve safer for ev­ery­one. If you’re host­ing a party at home, do so re­spon­si­bly, mak­ing sure none of your guests overindulg­e and mak­ing the party less about drink­ing and more about hav­ing fun. Shift the fo­cus from toast­ing drinks to games and ac­tiv­i­ties that don’t in­clude al­co­hol. Make sure to have plenty of food and non­al­co­holic bev­er­ages on hand and en­cour­age peo­ple who are drink­ing to eat full meals and drink wa­ter through­out the night. Peo­ple who fill up on food and wa­ter dur­ing the party may feel full, which may dis­cour­age them from hav­ing ex­tra drinks. While many peo­ple will ex­pect to drink al­co­hol on New Year’s Eve, don’t stock up on too much al­co­hol, the avail­abil­ity of which may en­cour­age guests to overindulg­e. Hosts also should keep the phone num­bers of lo­cal taxi ser­vices handy just in case some guests can­not drive them­selves home safely.

New Year’s Eve should be as fes­tive as pos­si­ble. Cel­e­brat­ing re­spon­si­bly can en­sure ev­ery­one has a fun and safe time.

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