New Year's Day is the deadliest day of the year for drunk driving crashes.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, last year 70 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes nationwide on January 1st after all the New Year's Eve toasts, representing over half of all traffic deaths that day.
The group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, MADD, is urging party-goers to plan ahead to get home safely after the celebrating.
MADD South Carolina spokesman Steven Burritt says the key safety tip is to designate a non-drinking driver before you go out.
But he says you can also plan to spend the night at your party site so you don't have to drive home.
And Burritt says we all have a responsibility not to provide alcohol to minors and to intervene if we see someone who appears to be intoxicated.
“MADD National Office put out some survey statistics about how many people don't take action, even when they've been at a party or whatever it may be, and someone's getting in the car after they know they've had too much to drink,” Burritt says.
“I think it was one in five people didn't take some sort of action to keep them from driving. So, we encourage everyone to take action when the opportunity arises because you might be saving a life.”
Another option is taking a cab home, and a “free ride” program is being offered again this year by Checker Yellow Cab, co-sponsored by Budweiser of Columbia and the Free Times.
Taxis will be stationed at various locations around downtown, and private party-goers can also call one of the cabs between 11 tonight and 3 tomorrow morning to receive a ride valued up to $10.
The destination must be to a home or hotel within Richland or Lexington counties.
The number to call is 799-3311.