Designating a sober driver for New Year's party can save lives

By The Jena Times staff

The Jena Times of Jena, Louisiana

Perhaps more than any other national holiday, New Year's Eve celebrations often involve alcohol consumption. For this reason, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is urging all celebrants to designate a non-drinking driver before starting to party this New Year's Eve and day.

For the first time in many years, no one was killed in a Louisiana highway crash during last year's New Year's holiday. However, an average of 5.5 people died in crashes between 2011 and 2010, and the majority of those fatal crashes involved alcohol.

"We're definitely making progress in highway safety and we believe efforts such as the designated driver program are contributing to these improvements," said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

"We are encouraging everyone who goes out New Year's Eve and day to designate a non-drinking driver before the partying begins," he said.

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission's "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign, which features increased checkpoints and saturation patrols, is in effect through January 2, 2012.

The Commission has provided grants to Louisiana State Police and dozens of local police departments and sheriffs' offices for the campaign. The agencies use the grant funds to pay officers thousands of overtime hours dedicated to enforcing DWI laws.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the following recommendations for holiday partners:

Designate your sober driver before the party begins and leave your car keys at home if you plan to drink.

Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast. Pace yourself -eat enough food, take breaks and alternate with non-alcoholic beverages.

Do not drink unless you are 21 or older.

Add the number of local cab companies to your phone so they are just a touch away.

Always buckle up - it's your best defense on the road.

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