A reminder to be safe on New Year’s Eve

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PLYMOUTH, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Ringing in the new year often comes with drinking alcohol.

But oftentimes people will mix their drinking with driving, causing tragic accidents and preventable fatalities. Experts at Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services spoke about how you can have a fun and safe holiday.

“Starting a new year with losing someone you love or getting in the hospital, it’s so preventable,” Stefanie Wolownik, prevention education supervisor for Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services, Inc., said.

Every New Year’s Eve, the number of drunk drivers on the road skyrockets compared to the average night of the year.

“Typically on an average weekend, one out of every 10 cars has a drunk driver behind the wheel. So when you have a holiday involved, those numbers increase drastically and then when you add in that people have their cellphones and are distracted, it isn’t a good mix and then the number is even higher,” drug and alcohol prevention specialist Shannon Wasilewski said.

The staff at Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services want to keep drunk drivers off the road so everyone can have a safe new year.

“There are obviously a lot of car services like Uber and Lyft that a lot of people have gotten into that has started to bring down the fatalities with drinking and driving and the number of accidents,” drug and alcohol prevention specialist Casey Marcks said.

If you do get behind the wheel after a few drinks, it might not even be your own life you’re risking, but others on the road.

“A lot of the time it’s not the people who are drinking that end up dying in an accident. It’s the other car who might be sober. They might actually be little kids who didn’t ask for it and weren’t involved in the drinking or the decision to drive,” Marcks said.

So if you have a few drinks this New Year’s Eve, make sure you’re drinking responsibly.

“We want everyone to make it home safely, enjoy the new year and we want everyone to remember that your best unopened gift is your airbag and we want you to keep it that way,” Wasilewski said.

In Luzerne County, the number of fatalities on New Year’s Eve has gone down 77 percent since 2015. Authorities believe this is due to the increased number of taxis and ride share apps.

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