Celebrate the New Year -- but please do it safely

Posted: Friday, December 31, 2010

Here's the good news: the Clarion recently reported that the rate of arrests for impaired driving dropped from 2006-2009 as compared to 2002-2005.

Unfortunately, the same study found that the most devastating consequence of impaired driving -- traffic fatalities -- has not changed, and, of just as much concern, some law enforcement officers don't see much of a change in behavior when it comes to people drinking and getting behind the wheel.

While local law enforcement officials are hesitant to read too much into statistics, Kenai police Sgt. Scott McBride did share this insight: "Perceptions and social norms have changed a little bit, so now people recognize it's pretty dangerous to be drunk driving. So if someone else looks like they're going to leave a bar and drive, other people will tell them, 'Hey, no, wait a minute. You need to take a cab.'"

As we head out to ring in the New Year this evening, that may be the best piece of advice we can take with us.

Chances are, many of the celebrations planned for this evening will include alcohol. There's nothing wrong with enjoying the celebration.

But if you are planning to attend a function where alcohol is being served, please plan ahead. If you'd like to enjoy a little holiday cheer or a champagne toast at midnight, make sure you have a desiganted driver. Program the phone numbers for local taxi cab companies into your cell phone now -- you'll have them for this evening, and for any future needs.

On a night like tonight, it makes just as much sense to stay off the roads and stay the night. Make a hotel reservation or call dibbs on your host's couch.

And while you're out celebrating, if you do see a fellow reveler about to make a bad decision, don't be afraid to stand up and say "Hey, no, wait a minute. You need to take a cab."

Let's make sure the New Year starts off healthy, happy and safe for everyone.

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