ESSEX — Chief Paul Francis wishes to remind residents of the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
December is recognized as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month nationally by the President of the United States each year, in an effort to reduce crashes and tragedies that come as a direct result of impaired driving.
Drunk driving crashes are known to happen more frequently over the winter holiday season, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there were 285 drunk-driving related fatalities during the time surrounding Christmas and New Year’s Eve in 2018. The NHTSA also reported 10,511 deaths from drunk-driving related crashes in 2018.
“Never, ever get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you or the driver have been drinking,” Chief Francis said. “It is absolutely imperative to plan in advance if you plan on drinking. Designate a sober driver, plan to be picked up by a family member or friend, or utilize public transportation or a rideshare service. These options will keep you and everyone else on the road safe.”
The Essex Police Department wishes to share the following tips from the NHSTA to prevent crashes and tragedies as a result of impaired driving:
- Never drive if you have been drinking or are under the influence of drugs.
- Never get into a vehicle with a driver who is drunk or high. Designate a sober driver beforehand or plan to use public transportation or a ride share service to get home safely. The NHTSA offers the following tips for using ride-sharing services and taxis:
- Confirm your ride by checking the license plate: Before getting into a ride-sharing vehicle, make sure the car and license plate match what you booked through the app. You should also look at the driver and ask them their name to confirm it matches the name and photo in the app.
- Find a safe spot to be picked up: Pick a location where you can wait inside until the driver arrives. If that’s not possible, choose an area to wait that’s away from the roadway, well lit, and where your driver can safely stop. Request that your driver drop you off in a safe spot as well.
- Always sit in the back: Sitting in the back seat will allow you to more easily exit the vehicle from either side in the event of an emergency or if you feel the need to suddenly leave the vehicle for whatever reason. It also puts more space between you and the driver.
- Share your trip details: Most ride-sharing apps will allow you to share your trip details with others, including the information of your driver/vehicle and the specifics of the route. You can also set the app to alert others of your arrival at your destination.
- Watch out for your family and friends, and if one of them is impaired and planning to drive, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get home safely.
- Be a defensive driver. The Essex Police Department urges residents to always remain vigilant while driving and watch out for other drivers who may be under the influence. If you see an impaired driver, find a place to safely pull over and call 911.
For additional driving and road safety tips, click here.