Why NYE Driving Sucks
From Thieves To Party Rookies, Here’s Why You Should Avoid The Roads On Dec. 31st
New Year’s Eve is one of the diciest days of the year to be on the road. And while that doesn't mean you need to miss out on those plans you’ve had on the books since before Thanksgiving, it does mean you should be smart about how you get around—starting with these NYE driving facts.
1. New Year’s Day: Great For Auto Thieves
“I’ll just come get the car tomorrow,” is an utterance that could very well cost you your vehicle on New Year’s Day. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that 2,469 vehicles were reported stolen on New Year’s Day 2018—the most of any holiday on the calendar. Apparently, thieves are keen to your plan to leave your car for the night to sleep it off—and you might not find it where you left it when you come back for it the next day. The far better option is to keep your car in the garage so you don’t start your 2019 with a car heist.
2. There Actually Are More Police Out
For police, NYE is known by three words: Maximum Enforcement Period. For the California Highway Patrol, it’s quite literally all-hands-on-deck during these periods, as every available officer is out patrolling. And it’s not just New Year’s Eve. CHP also has been known to declare a maximum enforcement period during Thanksgiving, Christmas and other times throughout the year, such as Labor Day weekend.
Last holiday season, sfgate.com reported that CHP made 936 arrests for drunk driving between 6:01 p.m. Dec. 29, 2017, and 6:00 a.m. Jan. 1, 2018. According to a press release, the patrol’s main enforcement point is speeding, but they’ll look for signs of impaired driving as well. That said, here’s yet another friendly reminder that an Uber will always be cheaper than a DUI—no matter the surge.
3. Ridesharing Hasn’t Decreased Drunk Driving
I know what you’re thinking: it’s easier than it has ever been to get a ride home. And yeah, you’re right. It is. But a report by the American Journal of Epidemiology shows that there’s not a strong correlation between ridesharing availability and a decrease in drunk driving casualties—a disappointing statistic if there ever was one.
Police are noticing this disturbing trend as well. In fact, 457 people were arrested for DUI by CHP during the last day of last day of 2013 and the first day of 2014. This is notable because Uber wouldn’t even reach 100 cities globally until that April.
Doubling back to that statistic from 2017-2018 that showed 936 DUIs notched by the CHP on New Year’s Eve, this gives us a 48 percent increase in DUIs on California highways since 2013-2014, despite the proliferation of ridesharing. In fact, while ridesharing has grown 150 percent in the past four years, DUIs have nearly doubled. All the more reason to let a driver ferry you around this NYE.
4. That Bartender Probably is Watching You
Unfortunately, it’s probably not for the same reason your friends are making you think. In fact, a solid percentage of any bartender’s job is to watch and make sure they’re not overserving alcohol to those who are already intoxicated—a job they take particularly seriously on NYE. After all, bartenders aren’t at the club to party; they’re there to watch out for themselves and the house. And if you do something irresponsible because of alcohol they served, they could be held responsible under so-called “dram shop laws.” On the books in 30 states, these provisions could hold a bar or bartender accountable a patron’s actions—even after they’ve left the establishment.
Pair that with even stricter law enforcement standards on New Year’s Eve, and bars and their employees have to be especially careful—to protect both you and themselves. In Boston, a district attorney even created a campaign reminding bartenders to keep a closer eye on patrons over the holidays, with posters saying “observe, don’t over serve” peppering the holiday bar scene there the past few years.
5. Amateur Night… Yikes.
If you’ve ever worked in a bar, you’ve probably heard this term. People in the hospitality industry use it to describe a night that brings out the people for whom this is their one big night out that year. Holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo also fall into this category. And spoiler alert: These folks might not have the alcohol tolerance (or restraint) they did back in the day.
This influx of part-time partiers contributes to all sorts of NYE snarls—from long lines at the bar because they don’t know what they want, to not knowing how to pace themselves, to thinking that they’ll just “have a few and then drive home.” Whether you’re behind the bar or just waiting in the line for a simple draft, these are the people who make you wish you stayed on the couch.
6. But…Other Days Are Just As Bad on the Road, Right?
Surprisingly, yes. Statistically, summer holidays such as Independence Day and Memorial Day actually tend to have higher fatality rates. This is mostly because there are simply more people are out traveling thanks to the nice weather and convenient long weekend.
The day before Thanksgiving is also starting to get more dangerous because of the increasingly popular “Blackout Wednesday,” which consists of old school chums getting together to drink at the bar the night before the holiday gives way to family and football. But overall, the winter holidays tend to have fewer accident-related fatalities according to the National Safety Council. After all, no one wants to be out in the snow and cold anyway, right?
So even though New Year’s Eve isn’t the only day of the year that the roads are less than ideal, it’s still not a great idea to be driving yourself.
Instead, leave your car at home and take advantage of free public transportation. If that’s not your style, gather friends and get luxe in a limo. Or stay home and bring the party to you. No matter how you choose to ring in the new year, you’ll get where you’re going more safely—and probably save a ton on parking.