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Start the new year right with a sober ride home

Instead of meeting the challenges of a new year, some revelers who encounter drunk drivers on the highway this New Year's could be spending their last moments alive.

As one of the most deadly holidays of the year, New Year's Eve traditionally causes a year-end spike in traffic deaths attributed to drunk driving.

Last year in America, an average of 31 individuals died in collisions involving impaired drivers on each of the six days beginning on New Year's Eve and ending on Jan. 5, Bankrate.com reported.

Those deaths were in addition to those fatalities that occurred over the Christmas holidays from Christmas Eve through Dec. 28. Those days racked up, on average, 34 deaths from alcohol-related crashes. Over the entire 2015 holiday season from Christmas to New Year's, 259 died in DUI wrecks.

In December 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that nationwide, 840 individuals lost their lives due to alcohol impairment behind the wheel.

This year's totals are on point to exceed last year's dismal statistics. That's the bad news. The good news is that drunken driving accidents and the injuries and deaths they cause are completely preventable.

The National Safety Council reminds drivers to keep these tips in mind over the New Year's holiday (and always) to remain safer on the highways:

-- Never, ever drive after drinking. Plan for an alternate ride home, sleep over at the party host's home or prearrange for a sober designated driver to take you home.

-- When driving long distances, get enough rest and take frequent breaks.

-- Insist that all passengers and the driver wear seat belts even for short rides.

-- Children need to be secured in size- and age-appropriate car and booster seats.

-- Pull over to make or answer calls or texts.

If you get injured in an accident involving an impaired driver, you can pursue civil justice through the Virginia court system.

Source: Cars.com, "New Year's Revelers: Driving Safely Means Staying Sober," Matt Schmitz, Dec. 29, 2016

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