AAA: New Year’s Day Ranks Among Deadliest On Roadways

SOUTH DAKOTA As South Dakotans prepare for New Year’s celebrations, AAA South Dakota is reminding drivers and passengers alike of the dangers on the roads this New Year’s Day, which consistently ranks among the year’s deadliest days for traffic fatalities.

Over the 30 hours of New Year’s last year – from 6 p.m. Dec. 31 to midnight, Jan. 1, 2015 – The South Dakota Department of Public Safety reported 18 crashes resulted in injuries on South Dakota roadways.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10,265 people died in drunk driving crashes in 2015 nationwide, an average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 51 minutes. These alcohol-related deaths accounted for 29 percent of all highway fatalities in 2015.

“AAA South Dakota urges motorists to be aware of how they can improve their own safety and the safety of everyone sharing our roadways,” said Buskohl. “A recent AAA survey showed that 97 percent of licensed drivers consider it unacceptable to drive when they may have had too much to drink, yet the carnage on the highway continues simply because drivers make poor choices.”

Sobering Drunk Driving Facts

  • During the New Year’s holiday period, defined by NHTSA as 6 p.m. December 31, 2014 to 5:59 a.m. January 5, 2015, the nation lost 31 lives per day in drunk driving crashes—a total of 139 deaths over 4.5 days, according to NHTSA.
  • Of the traffic fatalities among children 14 and younger in 2015, 16 percent occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. (NHTSA)
  • In 2015, the 21- to 24-year-old age group had the highest percentage (28%) of drivers with BACs of .08 or higher in fatal crashes com­pared to other age groups. (NHTSA)

Be Your Own Life-Saver

Reduce alcohol-related traffic deaths by following AAA’s advice over New Year’s:

  • Always plan ahead to designate a non-drinking driver before any party or celebration.
  • Never get behind the wheel of a car when you’ve been drinking alcohol – even after just one drink. Sometimes one drink can be too many.
  • 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.
  • Call a taxi or take advantage of AAA South Dakota’s free Tipsy Tow program and get a free ride home for you and your car. Open to AAA members and non-members alike, Tipsy Tow is available in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Mitchell and Yankton through New Year’s Day. If you feel unsafe behind the wheel after partying, call 1-800-AAA-HELP and request a Tipsy Tow.
  • Be a responsible host by reminding guests to stay safe and by offering alcohol-free beverages, such as mocktails (new recipes at www.AAA.com/Mocktail).
  • 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.

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