NYE precaution: Don't drink and walk

More pedestrians die on New Year's than any day

EDGEWOOD, Ky. - You've heard it since before you turned the legal drinking age of 21: "Drink responsibly."

And the slogan heard around the world prior to the biggest party night of the year: "Don't Drink and Drive".

But this New Year's Eve, maybe there should be another catchy phrase to remember, according to a local doctor and some national studies: "Don't Drink and Walk".

The faint beeping of heart rate monitors can be heard down the long, empty emergency room hallway at St. Elizabeth Hospital... little activity hitting the gurneys. But early New Year's morning, say around 2 a.m., may be a different story.

A study from the journal "Injury Prevention", showed more pedestrians die on New Year's day than any other day.

"Fall is a high-risk injury. You can have a closed head injury," said Dr. Lamont Smith, St. Elizabeth ER doctor.

Smith, who sees an upswing of patients on New Year's day, said falling is easier and more frequent when you add drinking to the mix.
 
"Your balance is off, your reflexes are off. You tend to fall more frequently... so definitely a higher chance of getting injured."

Falling into traffic is a concern as well.

There were 4,092 pedestrians nationwide killed in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association—59,000 were injured.

In that study, alcohol was a factor, by either the driver or the walker, in about half of those accidents.
 
"Have a designated walker if you drink too much. If your gate is off, if you're having trouble walking, you should have somebody help you," said Smith.

"Certainly do not drive under any circumstances—but if you have somebody help you, your chances unless they are also very intoxicated, your chances of getting injured will be less if somebody can help you get home."

The doctor said if the choices on New Year's eve, are drinking and driving, or drinking and walking, he says, choose to walk, because you put less people at risk.

In any case, he said have a designated driver or walker with you—and avoid stairs when drinking.

 

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AAA recommends the following suggestions to keep yourself and others safe on the roads over New Year's Eve:

  • Appoint a designated driver before festivities start. AAA encourages revelers to always appoint a designated driver whenever enjoying a night out – be it New Year's Eve or anytime.
  • Never ride in a car with someone who is intoxicated. Call a cab or arrange a ride with a sober driver if your designated driver decides to have a drink.
  • Protect yourself against other drivers. Always wear a safety belt and be sure all passengers buckle up. Children should be properly secured in child safety seats every time you get in the car.
  • Immediately report impaired drivers to area law enforcement. Be ready to provide the license plate number, description of the vehicle and the direction in which the car was traveling. Keep your vehicle at a safe distance, and do not try to intervene.
  • If entertaining, be a responsible host. Encourage sensible drinking by serving nonalcoholic drinks and never give alcohol to someone under 21.


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