Follow these tips to stay safe during your New Year’s celebration

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – New Year’s Eve is a great chance to celebrate the year gone by and the coming of a new one.

However, these celebrations also come with great responsibilities to avoid certain dangers. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you make your New Year’s plans.

To help reduce fatalities and injuries on the North Carolina highways, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol will implement its Booze It or Lose It program. Starting in 1994, it was created to increase awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, as well as the penalties associated with drunk driving.  

“There has been a 13 percent increase in traffic crash fatalities in 2020 versus 2019,” said Julia Casadonte, the communications manager for the NC Department of Transportation.

Casadonte went on to say that if you see a drunk driver on the highway be sure to call Highway Patrol for assistance and do not get too close to the vehicle. Greenville Police Public Information Officer Kristen Hunter also said it’s important for people to be aware of their surroundings and the potential of seeing a drunk driver on the road.

“We encourage everyone, remain aware of your surroundings and don’t drink and drive,” Hunter said.

Safety experts say it’s important to utilize a designated driver or a rideshare program. Make sure your phone is charged and readily available in the event of an emergency.

“And as always, if you see something suspicious, say something. Never hesitate to report suspicious behavior to your local law enforcement agency,” said Hunter.

Emerald Isle Chief of Police Michael Panzarella also emphasized the importance of thinking twice before starting your vehicle if you’ve been drinking.

“Living here in coastal North Carolina, especially in Emerald Isle, we have a few establishments that stay open that people can go and have a good time. If you’re hosting that party, it’s your responsibility to make sure that, if alcohol is served, that the people who come into your home get home safely as well.”

Panzrella points to rideshare options like Uber and Lyft that are available in most places, including Emerald Isle. He said with the Booze It And Lose It checkpoints in place, it’s very easy to get in trouble with the law if you are caught drunk while driving.

“Not only that you could get into a crash, that you could fatally injure someone else or yourself,” Panzarella said. “But that you could run into one of those checkpoints which then would result in you being arrested and charged.

“Just be smart. Just be smart. If you’re drinking, don’t drive. If you’re out with friends who are drinking, don’t get in the car with them and do your best not to let them drive as well.”

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