As 2010 draws to a close, Americans across the country are planning their New Year's celebrations. But during this exciting time of parties and resolutions, it's important to keep safety in mind.
The fact is, New Year's Eve can be one of the most dangerous nights of the year on our nation's roadways because of drunk and impaired driving. And I can't overemphasize how serious this problem is: in 2009 alone, 10,839 people were killed in drunk driving crashes, representing 32 percent of all traffic fatalities for the year.
That's why DOT's annual "Over the Limit, Under Arrest" winter holiday crackdown is currently under way, helping to raise awareness and get drunk drivers off the streets. Law enforcement officers across the country are stepping up visibility and increasing vigilance as part of the campaign. And the new "No Refusal" initiative we're promoting nationwide will help ensure that drivers suspected of being under the influence will face the strictest penalties possible for their actions.
But ultimately, putting a stop to drunk driving begins with personal responsibility. Organizations like MADD have told us the stories for years--of a fun evening out with friends that took a tragic turn because someone made the poor decision to drink and drive.
So, as you head out this New Year's Eve, make a plan. Choose a designated driver. Take public transportation. Call a cab. But don't get behind the wheel if you've had too much to drink. It's not worth the consequences.
Make 2011 a happy--and safe--new year.