Data show that alcohol-related crashes are down
BY CASEY SMITH World Staff Writer
Monday, December 31, 2012
12/31/12 at 6:57 AM
Find Oklahoma Highway Safety Office data analysis.
Over the past three New Year's holidays the number of motor vehicle crashes in Oklahoma increased, but the number related to alcohol declined.
A total of 419 crashes occurred during the days that made up last year's New Year holiday, 14 percent more than occurred during the same period two years earlier, records show.
Last year 51 crashes were alcohol-related, down 20 percent compared to the number of accidents connected to drunken driving during the 2009-2010 holiday.
Despite the downward trend, partygoers and hosts must be responsible to prevent people from ending in jails, hospitals or funeral homes, AAA Oklahoma spokesman Danial Karnes said.
"We know people are going to go out and party, and we don't want to go back to the days of Prohibition," Karnes said. "But we do want them to drink responsibly."
The data from the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety's Highway Safety Office cover 78 hours surrounding New Year's Eve, synonymous with late-night parties and champagne toasts.
Crashes included in last year's figures took place between 6 p.m. Dec. 30, 2011, and midnight Jan. 2, 2012. Crashes in older data occurred between 6 p.m. Dec. 31, 2009, and midnight Jan. 3, 2010.
Annual statistics show statewide motor vehicle crashes have decreased over the past three years and the trend is the same for alcohol-related crashes. There were 4,411 alcohol-related crashes last year, an 11 percent decline from 2009. However, the decline isn't as impressive as reductions in other states, said Toby Taylor, coordinator of impaired driving programs for the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.
The safety office has partnered with 16 agencies statewide on programs including Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, or ARIDE, Taylor said.
ARIDE bridges the gap between programs training officers to identify drunken drivers and programs targeting drivers impaired by drugs, ARIDE's website states.
Total crashes during the New Year holiday periods in 2010 and 2011 were low compared to five other holiday periods tracked by the safety office. All holiday periods covered 78 hours except Thanksgiving, which covered 102 hours.
More crashes occurred during the July Fourth holiday than during any other holiday period in 2010 and 2011, data show. There were 577 crashes during the Fourth of July holiday in 2010 and 493 crashes during the Fourth of July holiday in 2011.
Crashes typically increase when holidays fall on Friday or Saturday and most people don't have to work the next day, Taylor said. Weather also plays a big role in the numbers, he said.
Nationwide, New Year's Day consistently ranks as the year's deadliest for alcohol-related fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. On the first day of 2011, 122 people died in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents, according to administration data.
Karnes said that before going out, people need to plan ahead by lining up a designated driver or programing numbers for a taxi or the AAA Tipsy Tow service into their cellphones.
Tipsy Tow is a free, confidential service available to the public. The service will take drivers, their vehicles and up to one other person home from locations as far as 15 miles.
For most of the last 20 years, Tipsy Tow operated only from Christmas through New Year's but it was recently expanded to all major holidays, Karnes said.
The service runs through 2 a.m. Wednesday and operates in Tulsa and seven other cities in Oklahoma.
Party hosts also have a role to play in keeping roads safe, Karnes said. They should offer non-alcoholic beverages and protein-heavy food for people who do drink, he said.
Karnes said hosts should collect guests' keys when they arrive, determine when guests can leave and remain sober.
"It falls on them to be a good friend and make sure those people who are leaving your party aren't drunk," Karnes said.
Construction in the area makes it especially important for drivers to pay attention, he said.
"The main thing is always focus on the road and limit your distractions," Karnes said. "Put down the cellphone, put down the GPS."
Total crashes over holiday periods, 2011
|Holiday|| Hours|| Total Crashes|| Alcohol-Related Crashes|
|July Fourth ||78|| 493|| 70|
|Thanksgiving ||102 ||475 ||62|
|Labor Day ||78|| 475 ||62|
|Memorial Day ||78|| 423 ||43|
|New Year’s|| 78|| 410|| 54|
|Christmas|| 78 ||389 ||49|
Oklahoma, New Year Holiday breakdown 2009-2011
|Year|| Total Crashes ||Fatal Crashes ||Alcohol-Related Crashes|
|2010 ||366|| 4 ||64|
|2011 ||410|| 6 ||54|
|2012 ||419|| 6 ||51|
Source: Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Highway Safety Office. All periods cover 78 hours.
Plan before you party: Tipsy Tow
Tipsy Tow is a confidential, free
service AAA makes available to
members and nonmembers. The
service takes impaired drivers,
their vehicles and up to one other
person home from locations up to
15 miles away from their residences.
The service runs through 2 a.m.
Jan. 2, 2013, and operates in Tulsa,
Oklahoma City, Lawton, Muskogee,
Enid, Shawnee, Bartlesville
Original Print Headline: Alcohol-related crashes down
Casey Smith 918-732-8106