Plan ahead for safe transportation on New Year’s Eve

DES MOINES — New Year’s Eve is one of the most dangerous nights to be on the road due to the risk posed by impaired drivers, and Iowans are being reminded to make responsible choices this weekend.

Katie Jensen, a wellness education specialist at Gundersen Health System, says if you’re planning to celebrate and welcome 2024 on Sunday night, be sure to make arrangements to get home safely.  “If you’ve been drinking at all, having a plan ahead of time, even before you would go out, making that plan and figuring out, ‘Okay, how am I going to get home? Am I going to maybe only have one or two beverages, because I know I’m going to be here for a while,'” Jensen says. “Maybe only have one or two when you first get there, and then switch to something non-alcoholic the rest of the evening.”

There are multiple options, ranging from designating a driver to using a taxi, Uber or Lyft. Jensen warns of imbibing in any substances that might impact your ability to drive, even cold medicine that might make you sleepy. “Anything that’s going to impair your focus, your concentration, is going to be something that you want to completely eliminate out of your system — or out of your car — before even getting on the road,” Jensen says. “So that could be drugs, it could be alcohol, it could even be texting and driving. That is another form of impaired driving, really, because you are taking your attention off of the road and onto something else.”

A recent study found more than ten-thousand people are killed in the U-S every year by an alcohol-impaired driver. “Really, making that one choice could affect not only your own family, but other people’s families as well,” Jensen says, “especially if you’re going to get behind the wheel and you’ve been drinking, or you’ve been doing other substances that would impact your concentration and focus.”

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.