Long considered the biggest party night of the year, New Year's Eve in recent years has run a distant second to the holiday that has the largest number of drunk driving fatalities. The deadliest holiday is Thanksgiving - despite its reputation as a holiday to spend with family gorging ourselves and watching football.
The good news in Ohio is that all traffic fatalities are down this year, including those experienced around holidays. After a record low in 2009 with 1,022 fatalities, the state registered a spike in fatalities to 1,080 in 2010. So far this year, reports indicate 963 confirmed deaths and an additional 47 provisional unconfirmed deaths.
The recent Christmas holiday weekend registered a significant decline in traffic fatalities statewide, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol. During the reporting period of midnight, December 23 through 11:59 a.m. on December 26, eight people were killed, with one death attributed to impaired driving. This represents a nearly 43 percent decline in fatalities from last year when 14 people were killed and the lowest amount of Christmas holiday fatalities in the past four years.
We're on track to have the lowest number of annual fatalities in 2011, so don't let tonight's holiday change that trend.
Driving while impaired can be deadly, but it can also be costly. In Ohio, even the first offense of OVI could cause you to spend three days in jail or a driver intervention program, pay a fine of $200 to $1,000 and have your driver's license suspended for six months to three years. And these are the costs involved only in the penalty phase. Add to this the increased cost of insurance premiums and the possibility of lost employment due to an OVI conviction and attorney fees.
New Year's Eve celebrations can still be fun without including alcohol. Several area communities, including Salem in Columbiana County and Youngstown and Canfield in Mahoning County, host alcohol-free celebrations tonight which offer a wide variety of entertainment and fun that everyone in the family can enjoy.
A wise New Year's resolution would be to resolve not to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol in 2012. Maybe we can make 2012 one of the safest ever on the roadways.