Patrol warns to use designated driver, safety while driving over holiday

Thursday, December 28, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri State Highway Patrol encourages everyone to make good decisions regarding their New Year's celebration.

Capt. John J. Hotz with the Patrol said a traffic crash would be an unfortunate way to begin 2018.

Last year over the New Year's holiday counting period, eight people died and 302 people were injured in 539 traffic crashes during the 2017 New Year's holiday counting period. A person was killed or injured every 15.1 minutes during that time frame.

"New Year's is a great opportunity to spend time with friends and family," Hotz said. "Many Missourians will plan special gatherings to welcome 2018. If your plans include alcohol, remember that nothing ruins a party like a DWI arrest or a drinking-related traffic crash on your way home."

Designate a sober driver before the party starts, Hotz said. The roadway is no place for a driver who has been drinking, he said.

"If you cause a traffic crash, your new year might begin with being arrested, facing legal fees and medical bills, and perhaps jail time. You could lose your license and will have to face your family and friends.

Hotz continued: "If you kill or injure someone, you'll pay the price for the rest of your life. No one wants to begin 2018 in jail. Be smart. Designate a sober driver or take a taxi."

As individuals drive to their New Year's gatherings, remember to buckle up and obey all traffic laws, Hotz said. Be a courteous driver: When in doubt, yield the right-of-way. Pay attention and use the turn signal to communicate intentions to other drivers, he said.The posted speed limit reflects the roadway's classification and is not a suggestion.

"There's no reason to speed--the party starts after you arrive safely," Hotz said.

If inclement weather is expected, allow extra time for traveling or be flexible with your plans.

The Road Condition Report number is 1-888-275-6636. Depending on the weather, staying home might be your best option. Remember: Missouri law states if using windshield wipers, headlights must be turned on. It takes only a second to turn on a vehicle's headlights. That second could make motorists more visible to other drivers and prevent a traffic crash, Hotz said.

"The only 100 percent survivable traffic crash is the one that never happens," Hotz said. "Make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained in a seat belt or child restraint. Every day as we travel on Missouri's roadways, we trust that every driver on the road is going to obey the speed limit, pay attention, and drive sober."

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