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This New Year’s Eve, Don’t Drink and Walk

Staggering home is dangerous, too

(Image Source/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

New Year's Eve is just a minefield. Aside from the emotional angst over securing a midnight kiss or the night-killing trouble of caring for friends who've overdone it, even just stepping out the door can be a life-threatening prospect.

Whether pedestrian or passenger, we should all know by now to watch out for drunk drivers. But as Maddie Oatman writes for Mother Jones, it's not just the people planning to operate a vehicle who need to watch their New Year's reveling.

Out of the entire year, the period from midnight to six a.m. on New Year's Day brings the highest odds that pedestrians will die on the street, writes Oatman. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, she says, pedestrians are “1.7 times more likely to die while walking” on New Year's Day than on other days of the year.

Of the walkers who die on New Year's Day, most of them are drunk. Drunk walkers, like drunk drivers, are a hazard on the road, says the Daily Mail. They pose “a problem for thousands of innocent motorists as their unpredictable and often dangerous behaviour – from drunkenly crossing roads without looking or simply staggering onto a road and into the path of an oncoming car - increases the risk of a crash.”

According to a survey in the U.K., says the Mail, “[n]early a third of drivers say they have had to swerve or brake in order to avoid hitting a drunk pedestrian, with one in eight admitting to hitting one.”

Aside from the stupid behavior of drunk pedestrians themselves, walking while drunk also raises the risk that one wouldn't notice other threats—like drunk drivers.

So what to do? Catch a cab, walk with a sober buddy or, if you can swing it, says Oatman, crash at your host's house.

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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