According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, New Year's Day consistently ranks among the deadliest days to be on the road due to alcohol-related traffic incidents. Statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) back up that contention.
To help reduce the number of drunk-driving and alcohol-related traffic deaths, AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following safety tips for New Year's Eve and Day:
- 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
- Use mass transit or call a taxi. (Please note: the Tipsy?Taxi! program in Baltimore will not be operating this year.)
- Be a responsible host in reminding guests to stay safe and always offer alcohol-free beverages.
- If you encounter an impaired driver on the road, keep a safe distance and ask a passenger to call 911 (or pull over to 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.
NIAAA also debunks a few common myths about "sobering up".
Myth: You can drive as long as you are not slurring your words or acting erratically.
Fact: The coordination needed for driving is compromised long before the signs of intoxication are visible. Plus, the sedative effects of alcohol increase the risk of nodding off or losing attention behind the wheel.
Myth: Drink coffee. Caffeine will sober you up.
Fact: Caffeine may help with drowsiness, but not with the effects of alcohol on decision-making or coordination. The body needs time to metabolize (break down) alcohol and then to return to normal. There are no quick cures—only time will help.
Additionally, SoberRide offers free taxi services for impaired drivers in DC, Montgomery and Prince George's counties by calling 800-200-TAXI. You must be 21 or older, call from a phone with a Maryland or DC area code and allow for 30 to 60 minutes for a ride to arrive.