Celebrate responsibly tonight

If the trend during recent years holds true tonight, about 156 Americans will not live to see daylight on New Year’s Day. Please, don’t be among them.

New Year’s Eve traditionally has been a let-your-hair-down occasion for many people. Too often, that means consuming too much alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a car or truck.

That, in turn, results in far more accidents and fatalities than on nearly any other day of the year – almost entirely because of inebriated drivers. Alcohol and other drugs are 71 percent more likely to be factors in vehicle accidents tonight than on any other evening of the year.

New Year’s Eve is supposed to be a time of celebration. Go ahead and plan on an evening out on the town, if that’s what you enjoy. And if you are going out, here are some tips offered to help keep you safe.

If you are a non-drinker, still be very careful. There will be enough drunks on the road to require extra alertness from you to avoid an accident.

If you do plan to drink, know your limits and stay within them. There is no reliable formula. Most regular drinkers know how much they can consume before becoming impaired. A good rule of thumb is to stop one drink short of that.

If you are an occasional drinker, be aware alcohol may affect you more suddenly and severely than you expect. Ask those around you to tip you off if you’ve had too much. Ask them to keep you off the road.

Folks who plan to drink a lot tonight have several ways of staying safe. The best is a designated driver who sticks to non-alcoholic beverages and drives companions home.

Or, try taking a cab.

If you’re at a bar, your best friend may be your server, who will be more than willing to help you find a way to get home safely if you’ve had one (or more) too many.

There is no reason for anyone in our area to die as a result of drunken driving tonight. It can be avoided – and a good time still can be had by all.