Who listens to New Year’s Eve DUI warnings?

Photo by Earl Estrera

ST. GEORGE – As New Year’s Eve approaches, public service announcements citing the dangers of drinking and driving typically dominate the airwaves. Television and radio ads multiply alongside the patrol officers keeping an eye out for anyone who may be driving under the influence.

So who actually listens to these warnings? Apparently people in Utah do.

According to ZeroFatalities.com, there were no DUI-related traffic fatalities over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weekends in 2010.

Of course, counsel against drunk driving is relatively basic and universal according to Lt. Shawn Hinton of the Utah Highway Patrol.

“The simplest tip is not to drink and drive,” Hinton said.

He said two particular ways he knew of that kept drunk driving down were people who had a designated driver with them, or went to a party and stayed put the whole night through. Whether staying put all night is originally intended or not, Hinton added that it was a good idea to plan ahead.

“Have a plan in place if you’re going to drink and drive,” he said.

Here are some suggestions to avoid driving under the influence over the New Year’s weekend:

  • “If you’re going to drink, don’t drive,” Hinton advises.
  • Have a designated driver.
  • Give the keys of the car to a friend.
  • Plan not to be anywhere alcohol is served.
  • Make plans that do not involve the use of a vehicle.
  • Call a friend or a cab for a ride home if necessary.

While DUI-related fatalities were non-existent over the New Year’s weekend last year, DUI-caused accidents still counted for 35 deaths in the state for 2010. ZeroFatality.com ranks DUIs as the third highest fatality type on Utah’s roads. The first is improper restraint at 89 deaths, followed by 70 speed-related deaths.

It should be noted that a fatality may encompass one of these categories, or all three, plus a number of others.

There were 16 DUI-caused fatalities in Washington County in 2010, making it fourth in the state overall. It followed behind Salt Lake County with 56 deaths; Utah County with 31 deaths; and Weber County with 17 deaths.

Utah’s driest counties were Wayne, Morgan and Piute.

Despite the deaths, Utah currently ranks at no. 1 in the nation for deaths connected to underage drinking according to MADD.org.

Utah had a recorded 44 deaths connected to DUI’s. The state with the highest fatality rate was South Carolina with 357 reported fatalities.

DUI statistics for Utah can be acquired at ZeroFatalities.com. National statistics can be found at MADD.org.

mkessler@stgnews.com

Copyright 2011 St. George News. This material may not be published or rewritten without written consent.

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