Revelers making poor decision and getting behind the wheel after drinking has resulted in hundreds of deaths in a very small time period. According to MADD statistics, 437 people were killed over the New Years holiday in 2009 and 297 were killed in 2010.
Although drunken-driving incidents are down in recent years, officials say New Year's Eve still can be a dangerous night on the roads. Public safety officials work hard to make sure drunk drivers stay off the road.
Officials are urging party-goers to plan a safe ride home on New Year's Eve and throughout the New Year. Many law enforcement agencies will be stepping up DWI patrols on New Year's Eve.
To help you and others stay safe on the roads as 2012 comes to a close, AAA offers up the following tips:
- Always plan ahead to designate a non-drinking driver before any party or celebration begins
- Never get behind the wheel of a car when you've been drinking alcohol – even after just one drink
- 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 for a friend in need
- Be a responsible host in reminding guests to stay safe and always offer alcohol-free beverages
- 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
The sobering statistics have prompted AAA, which has over 51 million members, to announce its support for ignition interlocks for convicted DUI offenders "to strengthen efforts to protect the public against drunk drivers and reduce alcohol-related traffic deaths."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.