Don’t drink, drive into the New Year

Published 5:53 pm Thursday, December 27, 2012

While we all get ready to ring in the New Year with friends, family, confetti and maybe a bottle bubbly, we need to remember our safety and the deadly cost of drinking and driving.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, half the fatal crashes that occur on New Year’s Day involve a driver who was considered drunk. The Fourth of July came in second for this scary statistic and St. Patrick’s Day came in third. As a city, we’d like to see that statistic be zero on New Year’s Day. The first of the year is also number one for pedestrian deaths, according to the IIHS.

Thankfully, large automotive services have come to the realization that many people celebrate the New Year with a glass of champagne or another cocktail of choice and now offer services that offer a safe option to getting home New Year’s night.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has created a listing of sober ride programs across the country. To use the program, all you need is the number. If you’re celebrating the beginning of 2013 in Birmingham, the number is (215) 328-4444 and can be reached at all hours. Selma also offers taxi services such as the Sayer Cab Service, which can be reached at (334) 365-6225, and Checker and Deluxe Inc., (334) 241-0034.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is also offering a free “Tipsy Tow” on New Year’s, no membership required. If you’ve had one too many drinks, you and your vehicle can get a free ride home. To receive the service, simply call 1-800-AAA-HELP. The program will be offered through Jan. 2.

AAA also offers tips for those of us planning our New Year’s festivities, which we highly encourage everyone to look over. Before traveling to a first of the year party, remember to designate a sober driver. Also, we urge residents to remember to never get behind the wheel of a car after drinking — even if it’s just one drink. Driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher means you are legally drunk in Alabama. This limit applies in other states as well. Also, be mindful of an increased amount of intoxicated drivers on the road and to call 911 or pull over to a safe location if you spot a drunk driver.

So as you celebrate in your best New Year’s fashion, remember to ring in the first of the year safely — don’t drink and drive.

For more information on staying safe on the highways this holiday, visit