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AROUND THE STATE: Keep our highways safe on New Year’s

on Monday, 28 December 2020. Posted in Editorials, News, Opinions

AROUND THE STATE: Keep our highways safe on New Year’s

Against the backdrop of the pandemic, people are drinking more. 

TOP Data analyzed consumer tracking data of visits to liquor stores, online beer shopping data and a 1,000-person survey. 

Online sales of alcohol are 262% higher than last year and alcohol consumption among Americans ages 30-59 has gone up by 19% since the pandemic reached the U.S. There also is a 41% increase in instances of women drinking four drinks or more a day. 

The health impacts are certain to be real but likely won’t be as quickly known as some other measures of problems caused by more drinking. One is the stability of relationships. 

American Addiction Centers, a leading substance addiction resource provider, carried out a poll (3,400) that found almost one in five (16%) of South Carolina relationships that broke down since the start of the pandemic cited alcohol as the significant factor. 

In addition: 

• 1 in 5 admit to keeping drinking a secret from their partner during the lockdown. 

• 25% of couples admit they argue when they have been drinking. 

Enter the holiday season, a traditionally festive time when more alcohol is consumed. Tack on coronavirus issues to the normal December stress levels and there is potential for even more drinking this season. 

South Carolina law enforcement doesn’t want the drinking to carry over to the roadways. 

During the final weeks of December the S.C. Dept. of Public Safety and law enforcement partners statewide have been conducting the annual Sober or Slammer! campaign in coordination with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. 

Although the holidays may look different this year, troopers are encouraging motorists to make a plan for a safe ride home prior to any holiday celebrations. The S.C. Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies will also conduct a series of public safety checkpoints throughout the state during the New Year’s holiday period. 

SCHP urges motorists to take the following steps to ensure a safe ride home, even in these pandemic times: 

• Designate a sober driver. 

• Use public transportation, such as buses and shuttles. 

• Call a local cab or taxi service, or plan ahead for a taxi. (Some local towing services also offer safe rides home and will tow the driver’s car home for a fee). 

• Download and use ride-share apps such as Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, etc. 

NHTSA is also doing its part to encourage safe rides and has developed the NHSTA SaferRide app, available for Android and Apple mobile devices. Users can create a profile in the SaferRide app and may use it to call a friend or a local cab service for a ride home. 

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that drunk drivers play a role in a full 40% of traffic deaths over Christmas and New Year’s. That’s an increase of 12% over even the rest of December. 

The year has been deadly enough, from the pandemic to the roadways. Do your part to make the season a safe one. 

From the Times and Democrat of Orangeburg.

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