New Year's evokes visions of celebrations and fresh starts. Never has this been more true than it is this year. Even though COVID-19 and the ongoing social distancing guidelines should make this a New Year's Eve one we could forget, it will likely be one we will remember for the rest of our lives. Like the story my mom tells when she heard John F. Kennedy was shot, or the exact place in Brazil I was standing when I learned of the deadly attacks on September 11, 2001. We will remember the place where we rung out 2020 and welcomed 2021 with open arms and an optimistic heart.
Even though we have all been ordered by our government leaders to maintain social distance and to continue the fight against the spread of COVID-19, there are varying levels of adherence to those mandates. Some, are in open, blatant, and total opposition to the laws. Some are teetering on the brink between knowing the social distancing laws will keep everyone safe and exhaustion from the social isolation that comes with maintaining that distance. They may be taking small steps back to normal even though they know they shouldn't. These are the people who calculate the risks involved and choose to accept them in favor of a more normal life. Other people are staunchly obedient to the government mandates, perhaps guided by their own fear of the disease and the symptoms it carries. This blog post is dedicated to the first two groups of people. The people who may be getting together with friends and family to bring in the New Year.
But this is not a COVID lecture. This post is not being published to change your mind and encourage COVID consciousness and public safety. I'm not going to change any minds in that regard in a blog post on a lawyer blog. This is a reminder of the importance of drinking safely and responsibly if you choose to go and celebrate the end of a truly horrific year.
New Year's Day is the most dangerous day of the year to drive. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (the IIHS), New Year's Day is in fact the deadliest for alcohol related crashes. 62% of the deaths in motor vehicle crashes were due to alcohol impairment on New Year's Day. New Year's Day thus has a higher alcohol related deaths percentage than the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, St. Patrick's Day, and any of the other holidays where those celebrating historically consume excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages.
I guess what I'm saying, is that even if you choose to accept the risk of a social gathering during this COVID-19 year's end, accepting the risk to drink and drive is just an unacceptable risk no matter your political leanings, your belief in the coronavirus, or your view on the social distancing guidelines. Driving while under the influence of alcohol (or other substances) creates a risk of injury and death to all of us. If you've consumed alcohol, please don't drive.
Here's to a safe, and healthy New Year's celebration. I look forward to seeing you on the other side. 2021 can't get here soon enough.