TRENTON – With New Year’s Eve fast approaching, state officials today cautioned drivers, pedestrians and revelers who are traveling on the holiday to use good judgment if they plan to drink during celebrations.
“We would love to see this be the safest holiday season on record,” said New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. “So we’re advising motorists and pedestrians to think ahead when drinking and make alternative traveling plans when impaired. Traveling safely should be everyone’s priority as we ring in 2017.”
“Drivers should not be on the road if they are impaired in any way, whether because of alcohol or other substances or because of tiredness,” said Gary Poedubicky, Acting Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “But we also urge alert travelers to be vigilant, so that they don’t become victims of someone who is driving while impaired.”
State and local police will be vigilant as well. Poedubicky pointed out that the Division’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” initiative runs through Jan. 1. A total of 151 police departments throughout the state were awarded $5,000 grants to conduct a “holiday crackdown” on drunken driving. During last year’s crackdown, more than 1,700 DWI arrests were made.
Nationwide, there were 10,265 deaths in alcohol-impaired traffic accidents during 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s an average of 28 deaths per day. The administration estimates that alcohol-impaired driving deaths and damages have a cost of more than $52 billion a year.
The holiday season is particularly dangerous. In 2015, there were 10 fatalities that occurred during the New Year’s holiday, and seven of those deaths were the consequence of alcohol or drug impairment. Five of the deaths were pedestrians, three were drivers and two were passengers in vehicles.
There are steps revelers can take to ensure their safety while having a good time, Poedubicky said. If you have been drinking, take a taxi or a ride-sharing service and use public transportation. Also, have a friend escort you if you are walking home after a party.
Revelers should also be aware of the amount of alcohol they are consuming and act in moderation, said Jonathan Orsen, Acting Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
“It’s unwise to over-consume alcohol at any time of the year,” Orsen said, “but during the holidays, the message of responsible drinking is particularly relevant. That message goes for not only patrons, but party hosts and establishments where alcohol is served as well.”
The Division of Highway Traffic Safety offers the following road safety tips to keep pedestrians safe on New Year’s Eve:
-Cross at intersections only
-Never cross between parked cars
-Before crossing, look left, right and left again, and listen for traffic
-If there is no sidewalk available, walk as far off the roadway as possible on the side of the road, facing oncoming traffic
-Obey all traffic signs and signals
Tips for Motorists:
-Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Failure to do so carries a $200 fine, plus court fees and a two-point penalty
-Watch for pedestrians when turning on red.
Obey posted speed limits
-Do not block or park in crosswalks.
-Keep your windshield clean (inside and out) for maximum visibility.
-Be alert for pedestrians at all times.
The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control also offers tips for New
Year’s Eve revelers:
-Use mass transit, a cab or car service to get to and from their destination.
-Immediately report drunk drivers and drunk pedestrians you may see on the road to law enforcement.
-Never let a friend drive drunk. If you know someone is about to drive while impaired, take his or her keys and arrange for a ride home.
-Buckle-up, every ride.