By Briana Vannozzi
It’s supposed to be one of the biggest celebrations of the year, and highway traffic & safety officials want to keep it that way. New Year’s Eve is typically filled with drinks and potential drunk drivers so public safety advocates are urging caution. Last year alone in New Jersey 84 motorists were killed by drunk drivers, according to the state police.
“We think about the holidays as a good time to catch up with friends and family. A lot of times that means you’re going out and celebrating with them. Which means you’re going to bars with some old college friends or friends from high school and unfortunately people get behind the wheel,” said AAA NJ Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations Cathleen Lewis.
So they want you to have a plan.
“Even one drink can impair people and alcohol affects people differently, so you may think oh I’ve only had one or two. But you can be impaired and in some cases arrested for drunk driving and even hurt people,” said New Jersey Attorney General’s Office Spokesperson Zach Hosseini.
“And that’s where the SaferRide app comes in so it gives you a backup if you’re ride bailed or I stayed out later than I thought I was going to and had too many drinks it gives you an option to find a safe way home,” said Lewis.
SafeRide app is being rolled out across the country by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They’re hoping it’ll keep drunk drivers off the roads.
“What is nice about this is it’s simple. It basically gives you three options when you pull it up and you open it basically you have the option to find a taxi. You have the option to push a button and find a preprogrammed contact that you identified as a friend who can come pick you up,” said Hosseini.
And if its been a really long night, a GPS tracker under the “where am I?” section will locate you.
“So if you’ve gone from bar to bar and you’re not quite sure where you ended up and you don’t have you’re bearings, it will give you an option to tell the cab driver or your friends where you are,” said Lewis,
It’s one tool in an arsenal of many being used to crack down on what has become known as one of the deadliest times of the year. Mother’s against drunk driving is offering tips for getting home safely and the cab services Uber and Lyft will donate a dollar for every online pledge to drive sober this New Year’s Eve.
Both state and local police will have extra patrols and checkpoints out on the highways tonight. Even though nationwide the number of fatalities caused by drunk drivers went down 2.5 percent last year, there’s still one death every 54 minutes caused by someone who gets behind the wheel- who shouldn’t.
“Often times we’ll see some tragic accidents where people have stumbled into the roadway into oncoming traffic. They get lost and confused and somebody hits them. So it’s important even if you’re not behind the wheel if you don’t know where you’re going if you’re too drunk to really get your bearings you should call a cab,” said Lewis.
“Sometimes you don’t remember people’s phone numbers because you’re too intoxicated so that’s a great idea,” said Trenton resident Lacresha Williams.
And safety officials also say, even if you’re not planning to drink tonight- make sure you have a plan to help out a friend who is.