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Watch out for drunk drivers on New Year's Eve

The only thing worse than capping off your year with an arrest for drunk driving is to be hit by an impaired driver this New Year's Eve.

Approximately 1,200 people will die in the United States over the course of the holiday season due to alcohol-related accidents. The federal Department of Transportation reports that in the years 2001-2005, on average, 45 people died daily over the holidays.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving attribute the uptick in impaired driving deaths to holiday celebrations. More than half of Christmas collisions, and nearly 60 percent of fatal New Year's wrecks, are alcohol-related.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that not including the 1,200 alcohol-related fatal crashes during the holidays, an estimated 25,000 people will suffer injuries in collisions where alcohol is a factor.

Even with these sobering statistics, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's tracking of highway deaths due to impaired driving shows a steady decline since 1982. In that year, more than 2,600 people died in alcohol-related wrecks, a whopping 60 percent of the total deaths in accidents. That number has since been whittled down to approximately 1,200 death, or about 40 percent.

Take these five precautions to reduce the likelihood of your becoming a statistic:

1. Don't drink and drive under any circumstances.

2. Stop others from driving after drinking, even if you have to take away their keys.

3. If you are driving on New Year's Eve, be on the alert for erratic driving by others, which can indicate a drunken driver is behind the wheel.

4. Don't drive late at night and in the early morning hours on holidays.

5. Call 911 to report a suspected drunk driver on the road.

If you or a loved one are injured by a drunk driver, regardless of the disposition of any criminal charges they may face, you can file a claim for damages against their insurance company.

Source: MassMoms.com, "Sobering Statistics On Holiday Drinking And Driving," accessed Dec. 29, 2015

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