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New Year’s Eve Driving Safety

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Have fun plans this New Year’s Eve? Make sure everyone has a plan to safely get to and from the celebration!

The early morning of the New Year is one of the deadliest times on the road. The risk of being involved in a fatal accident involving a drunk driver is 116% higher on New Year’s Eve than an average night!

Avoid Dangerous Driving on New Year’s Eve

Start 2024 off on the right note by prioritizing safety on New Year’s Eve! Here are some of the dangers drivers may encounter on New Year’s Eve and ways to prevent trouble, whether you are hosting or simply attending the celebration.

Drunk Driving and Other Dangers on the Road

  • Drinking alcohol affects your depth perception and information-processing skills, slowing down your central nervous system’s functions and reducing your reaction time (American Safety Council).
  • Many people stay out late on New Year’s Eve, so drowsy driving is another concern. The effects of drowsy driving include impaired reasoning and performance, which can lead to motor vehicle crashes (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
  • Causing an accident due to drunk or drowsy driving can lead to jail time, license suspension, and large fees. Causing a car accident can also increase your insurance premiums. At its most dire, you can injure or even kill other motorists (American Safety Council).

It’s not just drivers who must be careful; New Year’s is an incredibly dangerous night for pedestrians, too. The number of pedestrian fatalities on New Year’s Day compared to the two weeks surrounding the holiday spikes by 49%, making it one of the deadliest holidays for pedestrians.

Preventing Dangerous Driving on New Year’s Eve

So, what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones this New Year’s Eve? Whether you’re hosting the party or heading out for the night, we have advice to help you keep everyone safe.

If you’re hosting the party:

    • Before the party or when guests arrive, ask their plans. Do they plan to spend the night? Do they have a designated driver? Will they rely on a ride-share service or other sober ride home?
      • You can even help guests reserve a ride on Lyft, Uber, or another ride-share service for later in the evening!
    • Offer plenty of non-alcoholic drink options, such as water, soda, and even fun non-alcoholic “mocktail” drinks!
      • Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is never a good idea. Make sure your guests have eaten, and serve food and festive snacks throughout your party!
    • The American Safety Council recommends that hosts stop serving alcohol several hours before the party ends.
    • Allow friends to spend the night. Prepare a guest bedroom, gather blankets for the couch, and/or have air mattresses ready.
      • If a friend insists on driving home, know that you may have to have an awkward conversation and take their keys; ultimately, they will be thankful that you kept them safe.

    For more information, read Drunk Driving Avoidance Tips from the American Safety Council.

    If you’re heading out for the night:

    • If you plan to drive later in the night, do not drink alcohol.
    • Know how you are getting home:
      • Do you have a designated driver in your group?
      • Will you use public transportation, and if so, have you confirmed that it will be operating in the hours you plan to head home?
      • Will you use a ride-share service?
    • See what local programs are available that may offer safe rides home on New Year’s Eve!
    • If you do not have a safe ride home, stay with the party’s host.
    Happy New Year!

    For more tips for a fun and safe New Year’s Eve, read our blog: Stay Safe on New Year’s Eve


    *This article was adapted from an earlier version originally published by Merchants on December 30, 2020. It was last updated on December 20, 2023.

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    Merchants Insurance Group

    Merchants Insurance Group sells its products through a network of more than 1,000 independent insurance agents in Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. We sell our products through independent insurance agents because we believe they provide value to policyholders through their broad range of products and their insurance expertise.