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Drunk Walking: Not a Safe Alternative to Drunk Driving

If you plan to heed the advice to not drink and drive in order to avoid causing a drunk driving accident on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, we commend you. However, we suggest you consider going a step further to protect yourself.

As a report by the Loyola University School of Medicine a while back pointed out, New Year’s Day is actually more deadly for pedestrians than any other day of the year. Furthermore, in more than half (58 percent) of pedestrian fatalities on January 1, the pedestrian killed was legally drunk, according to the report.

Actually, “walking drunk” is a risky proposition all year long. The Loyola Medicine report quotes an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study which found that 38 percent of fatally injured pedestrians 16 and older had blood-alcohol concentrations at or above 0.08 percent, the legal limit.

Elsewhere, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that out of all pedestrians killed in fatal crashes in 2012, 36 percent had a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, and 41 percent had some amount of alcohol (0.01 percent or more) in their blood.

In rural areas, there is actually a phenomenon of people who are drunk lying in the road and subsequently falling asleep and being hit and killed by a car, according to the New York Times. They are drawn to the roadway for its warmth, apparently. In other cases, a drunken individual may walk out into traffic – jaywalking – and be hit by a vehicle.

Falling, purposely lying down in the roadway or walking into the path of a vehicle while drunk illustrate two primary problems caused by over-imbibing pointed out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Loss of balance and coordination (leading to stumbling and falling)
  • Poor judgment (leading to ignoring the danger of lying in the road or misjudging an oncoming car).

“It’s not just walking outside,” Dr. Thomas Esposito, a trauma surgeon at Loyola University Health System, said in a news release. “We often see people who have been drinking that have fallen down the stairs or tripped at home and injured themselves.”

Don’t Drink and Drive – or Walk

If you expect to consume alcohol this New Year’s, please plan ahead to keep yourself safe:

  • Make arrangements to stay where you are partying if it is a friend’s home or book a room at a hotel or motel that is hosting the New Year’s Eve party.
  • Have a designated driver in your party who also agrees to make sure you are in his or her car at the end of the evening.
  • Hire a cab or other driver to pick you up and let you off at home.
  • Have someone walk with you or wait with you at a bus stop or subway station.