WICHITA – As area residents prepare for New Year’s celebrations, AAA Kansas is reminding drivers and passengers alike of the dangers on the roads this New Year’s holiday, which consistently ranks among the year’s deadliest days for alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 10,511 people – about 29 per day – died in drunk driving crashes in 2018,” says Shawn Steward, public and government affairs manager, AAA Kansas. “With people celebrating the New Year, and then getting behind the wheel after a night of drinking, January 1 is a particularly dangerous day on the roads. Even one death is far too many to be lost from a completely preventable crime.”
Sobering drunk driving facts
• In 2018, 10,511 people were killed in preventable, drunk driving crashes. In fact, on average, more than 10,000 people die each year from drunk-driving crashes. To put it in perspective, that’s equal to about 20 jumbo jets crashing each year, with no survivors. (NHTSA)
• During the Christmas and New Year’s periods in 2018, there were 285 drunk driving-related fatalities nationally. (NHTSA)
• In Kansas, where about 400 people die on roadways every year, some 25% to 30% are killed because of impaired driving, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation
• On average, three people are injured every day and one person is killed every three days in alcohol and drug related crashes across Kansas. Occupants in these crashes are over 250% more likely to be injured or killed than those involved in crashes where alcohol or drugs were not a factor.
• 250-300 drivers across Kansas are expected to be arrested for DUIs during the week following Christmas.
To strengthen efforts to protect the public against drunk drivers and reduce alcohol-related traffic deaths, AAA Kansas is offering important safety advice to New Year’s Eve party-goers:
Don’t drive intoxicated
• 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.
• Put numbers for local cab/ride-sharing companies in your phone before heading out for the evening.
• 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.
Visit PreventDUI.AAA.com for impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice. AAA encourages visitors to Take the Pledge to drive drug and alcohol-free.
Don’t drive intexticated
Distracted driving kills an average of nine people and injures 1,000 each day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is the third leading driver-related cause of crash fatalities, trailing only speeding and driving under the influence. These numbers likely underestimate the problem, as most drivers do not admit to distracted cell phone use after a crash.
Earlier this year, AAA launched a new, multi-year initiative to prevent deaths and injuries as a result of cell phone use by drivers. “Don’t Drive Intoxicated – Don’t Drive Intexticated” is the theme of AAA’s traffic safety education campaign created to make distracted driving socially unacceptable.
This campaign is designed to clearly communicate that the consequences of using a smartphone while driving are the same as drinking and driving. The campaign targets drivers who would never consider drinking a beer behind the wheel, and yet, regularly engage with mobile devices that dangerously take their eyes, hands and minds off the road.
Drivers are encouraged to kick-off the New Year with a new attitude about distracted driving and take AAA’s Don’t Drive Intexticated pledge. Take the pledge on-line at www.aaa.com/dontdrivedistracted.