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|Sheriff's office offers tips for New Year's|
New Year's Eve marks the annual tradition of bidding farewell to the past year and ringing in the New Year with celebrations that often include alcohol, so the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office urges local residents to celebrate safely this holiday.
According to Sheriff Royce Toney, 10,839 people were killed last year in the United States in automobile accidents where alcohol was a factor. This accounted for 32 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year.
"All too often, people drive after they have had too much to drink and busy roadways throughout the holidays always increase the risk of more drunken drivers," Toney said. "Yes, the holidays are about celebrating with family and friends, but it's important that you celebrate safely."
"You can help reduce holiday traffic accidents by having a plan before the New Year's Eve party starts," Toney continued. "It's everyone's responsibility to plan how they will get home safely. Promote the designated driver program, respect each designated driver and don't let friends drive drunk."
Remaining sober on New Year's Eve does not guarantee that other drivers on the road have done the same, Toney said.
"There is no way to predict when an alcohol-related accident will happen," he said.
There are some steps drivers can take to reduce their chances of being injured, and more easily recognize a potentially dangerous situation, according to Toney.
Warning signs of an intoxicated driver include: a driver traveling 10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit; a driver who suddenly stops for no apparent reason; drivers traveling too closely to other vehicles; drivers braking erratically and inconsistent use of turn signals;
driving without headlights; and drifting in a straight line at a slight angle to the roadway.
To protect yourself, the Sheriff's Office offers the following advice:
• Call your local law enforcement agency and report the driver: Take note of the driver's exact location and be prepared to give a description of the car including make, model, color, and most importantly the license plate;
• Always wear your seatbelt;
• Do not follow a suspected intoxicated driver too closely because he or she may make sudden stops;
• Do not disregard any traffic signals in an attempt to keep the driver in sight;
• Do not compromise your own safety by getting overly involved with what the drunk driver is doing;
• If the driver stops, do not attempt to detain him or her.