Staying safe during New Years celebrations

Published 7:38 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Whether you’re braving the natural elements and crowded streets of Times Square in New York City, or huddled up by a fire with your closest family here in Beaufort County, waiting for the clock to strike midnight, safety is probably the last thing you’re thinking about.

With New Years resolutions and yearly reflection is on the minds of many, it’s easy to forget the simplest of safety tips, especially when copious amounts of champagne are flowing through your blood stream like algae down the Pamlico River.

Jan. 1 has been deemed the worst day for drunken driving in the calendar year, according to an analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. And in terms of fatal car accidents, half are said to have been caused by drivers with a blood-alcohol content of at least 0.08, the legal limit.

For most people participating in New Years Eve celebrations, consuming alcoholic beverages is inevitable. Paired with Independence Day, it has long been a holiday associated with drinking. Unfortunately, it’s also a holiday linked with poor decision-making.

In terms of when these incidents happen, the report states that most accidents happen around 6 a.m., meaning people who wake up the following morning who think they’ve slept off the booze have not. Just because you’ve managed to get a few hours of sleep after a long night of drinking, doesn’t mean you’re fit to get behind a wheel.

For every drink consumed, it usually takes an hour, depending on your body mass index, to rid yourself of that drink. For thinner people, that timeframe may be longer. That’s important to keep in mind before you get behind a wheel of a vehicle.

There are plenty of ways to stay safe this holiday season. First, plan out your night logistically before you pop that first bottle of champagne. The cops will be out in numbers, so driving home after the ball has dropped is just about the worst decision you will make all year. If you plan on driving, limit yourself to just two drinks maximum. If you plan on drinking more, it’s smart to crash on your friend of family member’s couch for the night. And if that doesn’t sound appealing, Jan. 1 is also one of the biggest nights for taxi companies, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and dial. Hunting down a designated driver who hasn’t been drinking also isn’t a bad idea either.

Then there’s the following morning. If you’ve had a few too many, which will likely be apparent by the intensity of your headache, it’s smart to wait awhile before driving. Breathalyzers, instruments to measure one’s blood alcohol content, have become commercially available over the years and are relatively cheap. Accurate breathalyzers can be purchased for around $30, depending on the brand.

Before you go ahead and plan out your New Years resolution, make your final decision of 2014 is not to drink and drive.