The holiday season will soon be upon us, and New Yorkers, like the rest of their fellow Americans, will be gratefully celebrating the end of 2020. For many of us, ringing in the new year will involve traveling.
Nationwide, January 1 is the fifth most dangerous day for drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Not surprisingly, most traffic accidents on January 1 occur early in the morning when partiers are heading home after a night of celebrating. The combination of a large number of drivers on the road and the likelihood that at least some of them will have been drinking can lead to disaster.
While the NHTSA ranks New York an impressive 50th place for impaired driving deaths nationwide, the Department of Transportation reports that 218 people died in traffic accidents in New York City alone in 2019. If you are traveling to a private or public event for a New Year celebration, some advance preparation and a few safety tips can help keep you and your loved ones safe.
Just Say No
If you are driving, the most important safety tip anyone will give you is to avoid drinking. Impaired driving is the leading cause of traffic accidents in general, and even a slight impairment is dangerous when combined with heavy traffic, late hours, and fatigue. Drivers whose BAC is below the legal limit may still experience delayed reaction times or loss of focus, which can make it more difficult to avoid accidents.
Assign a designated driver, use public transportation, or use a ride share service. Never get into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking. Call a friend, take a cab, or stay where you are until you can find a safe way home. Drunk drivers often escape injury themselves while passengers are seriously injured or killed.
When walking to a train or subway station, or walking home, it is important to be aware of your surroundings, especially on New Year’s Eve. Avoid using your cell phone or headphones, so you can keep your attention to both other pedestrians and drivers. Stay on the sidewalk, and look for signs of impaired driving: weaving, sudden stops and starts, random changes in speed, and other erratic behavior. Wear light-colored clothing and/or carry a flashlight. Remember that alcohol can impair one’s judgment and make it more difficult to perceive a dangerous situation, so avoid walking alone if you have been drinking.
Hosts that over-serve their guests may, in some circumstances, be legally responsible for injuries caused when those guests drive while intoxicated. Never allow an underaged person to drink at an event you are hosting. Be aware of your guests’ behavior, and avoid serving alcohol to anyone who appears impaired. Do what you can to discourage them from driving home. Provide overnight accommodations, have phone numbers for taxi and ride share services handy, or even arrange your own transportation. Party hosts may also consider cutting off alcohol service and switching to coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages as the party nears its end.
New York Accident Attorneys
We wish our clients a safe and happy holiday, but if you or a loved one is injured in an accident, call an accident attorney at O’Brien & Ford for a free, no-obligation consultation. We are available around the clock at 716-907-7777. You can also reach us here.