New Year’s Eve is the culmination of the holiday season that started with Thanksgiving and ends on New Year’s Day. For many people, New Year’s Eve is an opportunity to either host or attend a party where guests celebrate the past year and toast the year ahead. Unfortunately, New Year’s Eve is also one of the most dangerous times to drive, as there is a significant increase in car accidents. Many of these accidents are caused by partygoers who get behind the wheel of their car after having one too many glasses of champagne. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), close to 55 people are fatally injured in drunk-driving car accidents on New Year’s Eve or the early hours of New Year’s Day. These accidents are entirely preventable if motorists avoid consuming alcohol or arrange for a ride home by a designated driver or a ridesharing service such as Uber or Lyft. If you are seriously injured in a drunk driving car accident on New Year’s Eve, you are urged to contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Why Are There More Car Accidents on New Year’s Eve?
Drinking and driving is certainly one of the most common causes of car accidents on New Year’s Eve and the early hours of New Year’s Day. Whether you are attending a party, hosting a New Year’s celebration, or ringing in the New Year at a restaurant or bar, wine, beer, and cocktails are likely to be served, and flutes of champagne are often passed around as the countdown to midnight gets closer. When the parties start to wind down, people who should not be driving often get behind the wheel or their car and drive home. Unfortunately, impaired drivers have slower reaction times, are less coordinated, and are more likely to drive too fast. This can have serious, and even deadly consequences if the impaired driver hits another motorist on the road.
In addition to drunk driving accidents, drowsy driving accidents can occur when motorists are driving home late at night after a New Year’s Eve party. Even if a motorist is completely sober, he or she may be exhausted, particularly if the party ends well past midnight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowsy driving can be just as dangerous and cause many of the same impairments as drunk driving, particularly if the driver has gone without sleep for over 18 consecutive hours. Inclement weather conditions are another common cause of car accidents during the holiday season. Snow, ice, and freezing rain can cause road conditions to be extremely treacherous and increase the risk of a serious car accident.
What Safety Tips Should I Keep in Mind if I Am Hosting a Party?
If you are hosting a big New Year’s Eve party or a small get-together with a few friends and family members, there are some safety tips you should consider that will help keep you and your guests safe, including the following:
- Serve nonalcoholic drinks. There may be guests at your party who do not drink or who have volunteered to be the designated driver for the night. Always provide nonalcoholic options, including sparkling water, soda, and an assortment of juices. Make sure that there is plenty of food as well, so that guests are not drinking alcohol on an empty stomach.
- Make sure that your guests have a safe ride home. Ask your guests what their plans are for getting home safely. If a guest appears visibly intoxicated but plans to drive, confiscate their keys and either call a ridesharing service or insist that your friend spend the night so that they do not get behind the wheel.
- Ask guests to leave their keys at the door. This allows you to monitor guests throughout the night and ensure that no one is leaving the party and getting behind the wheel intoxicated.
What Safety Tips Should I Follow if I Am Going Out?
If you are attending a New Year’s Eve party at someone’s home or at a restaurant or bar, either avoid drinking entirely or make sure that you have a safe ride home if you do plan on drinking. If you are going to the party with friends, make sure that someone in your group is the designated driver, and that he or she will not drink at all. You can also arrange for a ride home with a taxi or a ridesharing service. If the party is at a friend’s home and you are unable to get a ride home for some reason, ask your friend if you can crash on the couch for the night. Even if your friend did not plan on having overnight guests, he or she would rather let their intoxicated friend spend the night than let them drive home drunk and possibly cause a serious car accident.
What Are the Signs of Alcohol Intoxication?
While you might think that it is perfectly safe to drive after only having one or two drinks, even a relatively small amount of alcohol can cause impairments. The following provides an overview of the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and how increasing amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to drive:
- BAC of .02 to .04; equivalent to two drinks. You may feel more relaxed and become more talkative. Your judgment becomes impaired, and you may have a difficult time multitasking.
- BAC of .05 to .06; equivalent to three drinks. You may become louder and more exaggerated. Your inhibitions are lower, and you may have difficulty steering and focusing on moving objects. Depth percent and reaction times are slower.
- BAC of .08; equivalent to four drinks. You lack self-control and start to lose balance and muscle coordination. You also have trouble concentrating, focusing your vision, and processing information. It is illegal to drive in the United States with a BAC of .08.
- BAC of .10 or higher; equivalent to five or more drinks. You will have difficulty balancing or walking, reaction time is deteriorated, and you lose muscle control in your arms and legs. You may have difficulty processing what you see and hear.
What New Year’s Eve Driving Tips Should I Follow to Avoid a Car Accident?
Although you cannot control how other motorists drive, or the irresponsible decision they may make to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of a serious car accident on New Year’s Eve, including the following:
- Plan ahead. Make sure that you have a safe ride home, either from a designated driver, a taxi, or a ridesharing service. Always check the weather before going to the party. If severe storms are in the forecast, you may want to consider skipping the party and staying off the roads. If you plan to weather the storm, make sure that your vehicle is in good working order and prepared for icy, snowy conditions.
- Follow the rules of the road. In addition to avoiding drunk and distracted driving, all motorists must follow the posted speed limit, avoid tailgating, signal when necessary, and use extra caution when driving during inclement weather. Motorists should also wear a seat belt at all times.
- Avoid distractions. Distracted driving is another common cause of car accidents during the holiday season. People have a lot on their minds over the holidays, from figuring out where to pick up the perfect hostess gift to planning a menu for a party they are hosting. If you are distracted by a text, a phone call, or anything else that takes your attention away from the road while you are driving, you can cause a serious car accident.
- Maintain your vehicle. Before you head out to a New Year’s Eve party, make sure that you have your vehicle maintained by an experienced mechanic. He or she will check the tires, brakes, lights, and all hoses. If any fluids need to be topped off, the mechanic can do that as well. Windshield blades usually need to be replaced each year so that they thoroughly clean the front and rear windshield.
- Wear a seat belt. A seat belt will not prevent an accident from occurring, but it can save your life or reduce the severity of your injuries if you are involved in a serious car accident.
Towson Car Accident Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC, Help Those Injured in a New Year’s Eve Accident
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident on New Year’s Eve, reach out to the experienced Towson car accident lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. Our legal team will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to hold the negligent party accountable. We will be your advocate to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. For more information and a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 443-589-0150. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.