Celebrate responsibly when ringing in the New Year

Editorial -
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With the start of 2008 less than a week away, many people will be attending parties to ring in the New Year. And while we celebrate the passing of another year, we should not forget that the holiday season can be one of the most deadly times of the year due to the mixing of drinking and driving.
Nationwide the statistics are sobering. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve 2005, 1,317 people were killed in traffic crashes involving alcohol representing 38 percent of all traffic deaths. On New Years Eve 2005, 50 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes, an increase from 42 in 2004, while on New Years Day 2005, there were 78 alcohol-related deaths, compared to 91 in 2004.
Drunk driving is a serious and violent crime that happens all too often. On nights like New Years Eve, everyone must do their part to protect lives and prevent injuries by designating a sober driver or planning on other safe transportation, said Glynn Birch, MADD national chairman.
Locally, law enforcement agencies are stepping up their enforcement to help ensure a safe holiday for everyone. In just the first 15 days of December, Washington State Patrol troopers made 207 DUI arrests in Snohomish County. Statewide, WSP troopers have made approximately 17,100 impaired driving arrests this year.
We know this is a time of year when many people get together to celebrate during the holidays. Unfortunately, impaired drivers will all too often turn the celebration to tragedy, said Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste in a recent press release. Our troopers are dedicated to reducing the number of collisions and fatalities caused by impaired drivers.
Local residents can take a number of steps to make the troopers job easier and to eliminate impaired driving.
MADD offers the following steps a driver can take to enjoy a safe and festive holiday without jeopardizing their life and the lives of the others who may be on the road:
Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.
Before drinking, please designate a sober driver and give that person your keys.
If youre impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely.
If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, dont hesitate to contact your local law enforcement.
And remember, if you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
This is a festive time of year when celebrations abound. We should enjoy the celebrations, but we should do it responsibly. Dont drink and drive.

To contact a member of The Marysville Globe/Arlington Times editorial board Kris Passey or Scott Frank e-mail forum@premier1.net.

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