New Year’s Day is deadliest for alcohol-related crashes, IIHS Reminds Drivers,

As we head into 2017 and New Year’s Eve celebrations are upon us, The IIHS your local law enforcement departments and us here at O’Rielly Collision Centers wish to remind you all that New Year’s day is the deadliest day on the roads for drivers passengers bicyclists and even pedestrians. This is the holiday with the most lethal combination of alcohol and crashes. According to recent analysis from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Jan. 1 is the deadliest day on average for alcohol-related crashes involving a motor vehicle, pedestrian or bicyclist.

IIHS researchers reviewed the five most recent years of available fatal crash data and found that every New Year’s Day sees an average of 70 lives lost in crashes in which at least one driver, pedestrian or bicyclist had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. 62 percent of the average 113 crash deaths on Jan. 1, were due to alcohol impairment, the researchers noted, which is nearly double the overall impairment rate of 35 percent during the 2011‒15 period.

Jan. 1 also is the deadliest day for passengers and occupants of cars, minivans, pickup trucks and SUVs. During the span of 2011 to 2015, the IIHS researchers found that an average of 83 lives were lost in passenger vehicle crashes on New Year’s Day. Contrast that to the typical average of 59 people who died in passenger vehicle crashes on any given day during 2011‒15. The IIHS researchers puled their data from the Federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System, an annual census of fatal crashes on U.S. roads.

It’s not just drivers who need to be cautious either. While pedestrians and bicyclists are at risk of being struck by impaired drivers, they also are at risk when they have been drinking as well. In 2015, 46 percent of pedestrians and 36 percent of bicyclists age 16 and older killed in crashes between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. had BACs at or above 0.08 percent.

The best course of action for any party, regardless of day of the year, is to determine ahead of time who will be doing the driving home. Designated drivers, while certainly not a new concept, are the safest bet to ensure you get home safe. And if that doesn’t work there are always taxis and Uber’s to get you home.

If you must drive yourself home from a New Years celebration, here are a few tips to keep in mind. Consider it a refresher course:

Your liver can only process one standard drink per hour. If you drink more than this, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) will spike over the legal driving limit (.08) and you will be unfit to drive. Some people should limit themselves even more due to metabolism, size or tolerance.

To help keep track of what you drink, don’t top off glasses of alcohol. If you only finish one glass, but it’s been refilled at the half-way point several times, you will drink more thank you think.
To help limit your alcohol intake, include “spacers” in your beverage choices for the duration of the party. These are non-alcoholic drinks between alcoholic ones. So, start off with a non-alcoholic drink, such as a glass of water or a seltzer, and then choose another non-alcoholic one for every second or third drink.

Drinking low-alcohol drinks also helps limit your intake. Avoiding cocktails, which are hard to gauge for exact alcohol content, will help keep you steady for the drive home.

Avoiding shots or rounds is also a good idea. Trying to keep up with other drinkers at the party can quickly make you unfit to drive.

Be mindful of the food that you eat. Try to avoid foods that will increase thirst, like salty snacks.

And, as you eat, sip your drink. If you find yourself needing to gulp or wash down a dessert, grab a glass of water, then go back to sipping your alcoholic beverage.

Don’t leave the party right after the ball drops. If possible, drivers should try to stay off the road between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m., when drunk driving accidents are most likely, according to research from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Regardless of how you ring in the new year 2017, remember to make safe driving an important part of your celebration plan. Happy New Year and safe driving from all of us at O’Rielly Collision Centers!

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