With the holiday season kicking off this week, Chief Paul Madera and the Ludlow Police Department wish to emphasize the importance of remaining safe and sober while driving.
“We know the holidays are a great time to reconnect with friends and family, but that doesn’t mean there’s ever an excuse to drive impaired,” Chief Madera said. “It’s important to plan ahead and designate a driver or seek out alternative modes of transportation in order to avoid a tragedy this holiday season.”
The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, or “Thanksgiving Eve,” has become a night commonly associated with drinking and visiting bars. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 800 people died in alcohol-related crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period, from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. the following Monday, between 2012 and 2016.
Additionally, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 40 percent of traffic fatalities that occur during the holidays involve a driver who is alcohol-impaired, compared to 31 percent for the rest of the year. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reported that, in 2016, 48 percent of highway deaths on New Year’s Eve were alcohol related.
The Ludlow Police Department cautions people against drugged driving, including legal and illegal substances, such as marijuana and prescription medications.
To keep travelers safe, Chief Madera offers the following safety tips from the NHTSA:
Buckle Up, Drive Sober and Pay Attention
- Always wear your seat belt.
- Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In every state, it is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Do not text while driving and always keep both hands on the wheel.
- Be sure to have a designated driver to ensure that you and your family members are safe at all times in the motor vehicle.
- If you see anyone with an alcoholic beverage, or if a person smells of alcohol, do not get into the car or let that person drive.
- Utilize local taxi companies or ride-sharing services if you are impaired.
- Plan your travel and route by checking the weather, road conditions, and traffic. Leave early, if necessary, and allow plenty of time to safely get to your destination.
- Carry items in your vehicle that may prove useful in the event of an emergency or if you get stranded, including snow shovel, broom, ice scraper, jumper cables, flashlight, flares/emergency markers, blankets, mobile phone with charger, water, food and any necessary medicine.
- If you become stranded, don’t run your vehicle with the windows up or in an enclosed space for an extended period of time to avoid asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning. If you must run your vehicle, clear the exhaust pipe of any snow and run it only sporadically – just long enough to stay warm.