As party-goers ring in 2013 amid confetti, horns and laughter, AAA reminds drivers of the sobering fact that New Year’s Day consistently ranks as the deadliest of the year for alcohol-related highway fatalities. The organization offers safety advice and advocates for ignition interlocks to combat the dangers of drunk driving.

“Party hosts and drivers have a shared responsibility to prevent alcohol-related crashes,” according to Brian Newbacher, Director of Public Affairs, AAA East Central. “Hosts need to plan how they are going to approach the challenging situation of a guest who is inebriated but plans to drive home. Preparation can prevent an awkward and potentially deadly situation,” he explained.

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AAA offers 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

AAA is not alone in its concern about impaired driving or strong support for tough policies for convicted drunk drivers. According to the 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than nine in 10 drivers consider it a serious threat to their personal safety when others drink and drive, and nearly all (97 percent) surveyed find it unacceptable for a driver to get behind the wheel when they have had too much to drink.

To prevent these dangers, nearly eight in 10 Americans support requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted DUI offenders, even if it’s their first conviction.

“Research has identified ignition interlock devices (IIDs) as a proven way to save lives,” said Newbacher. “AAA’s recommendation to require the use of IIDs for all convicted offenders is grounded in research, which shows that IIDs are more effective than other methods at reducing re-arrest among convicted drunk drivers and keeping impaired drivers off the road.”

AAA is reaching out to motorists on the heels of a recent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) decision to support laws requiring IID use for all first-time DUI offenders-one of several new recommendations issued to help curb alcohol-related traffic injury and death.”I commend AAA for stepping up for safety,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman.

“Technologies such as ignition interlocks, will reduce alcohol-related crashes on our nation’s roadways. We look forward to working alongside AAA and its clubs to eliminate the nation’s top killer on our roadways – impaired driving.”

Article Courtesy of WOIO 19 Action News

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