State police urge caution, smart choices on New Year’s Eve

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind - Indiana State Police (ISP) is urging Hoosiers to be extra cautious and make smart decisions when traveling to and from New Year’s Eve celebrations tonight.

State police arrested 28 people for driving under the influence state wide last year on New Year’s Eve. Statewide police agencies responded to 922 crashes, resulting in 174 injuries and 4 deaths, according to numbers compiled by ISP Sgt. John Perrine. It’s not clear how many crashes were attributed to impaired driving, but police say the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is the busiest time of year for drunk driving patrols.

State police have been running extra patrols since Dec. 22 as part of operation C.A.R.E. or Combined Accident Reduction Effort. The program provides federal funding for extra troopers to patrol Indiana Roadways during the holiday season. The extra patrols will continue through Jan. 2.

“I’ve seen a lot of bad accidents, seen a lot of fatalities,” said ISP Trooper Shane Cunningham, a 13-year veteran of the department. “You just think about all the lives that are put in danger by a simple decision, a bad decision that someone has made where they have all these other means of getting a ride home.”

Trooper Cunningham and other troopers on patrol are constantly looking for signs of impaired driving.

“Not staying in your lane, or sudden movements as far as changing lanes and not using a turn signal,” Cunningham said. “Following too close or a sudden drop in speed or increase in speed.”

Despite years of public messages against drunk driving, Cunningham says she’s still seeing too much of it, and it is a source of frustration.

“Seems like it’s so easy today to get an alternative route home,” he said. “Uber or a taxi or call a friend.”

While New Year’s Eve revelers need to plan ahead for a sober ride home, Cunninham says party hosts also need to remember Indiana’s Social Host Law.

“If you’re the host and you’ve got somebody at your party and they’re way gone and you allow them to drive, ultimately you could be held responsible for that,” Cunningham said.

Designated and sober drivers should be extra defensive while driving on New Year’s Eve, Cunningham said. They can also help get a potential drunk driver off the road by contacting police and being a good witness.

“Call 911 and hopefully we can get some eyes on them and see if they are impaired,” Cunningham said. “Just try to keep eyes on them, from a distance, and give us the best description of the vehicle, what they’re doing, where they’re going.”

State Police also offer the following reminders to help you stay safe on the roadways:

  • When planning to travel, make sure you are well rested, as a fatigued driver is a dangerous driver.
  • Increase your following distance; remember the two-second rule.
  • Watch for slowed or stopped traffic when approaching construction zones or crash sites.
  • Leave a car length between you and the vehicle in front of you in stopped traffic. Watch approaching traffic in your mirror and be prepared to take evasive action.
  • Decrease your speed according to traffic and road conditions.
  • Beware of bridges, overpasses and intersections where ice tends to form first during cold inclement weather.
  • Make sure everyone in your vehicle is properly restrained, including making sure Child Safety Seats are properly anchored and that children stay securely fastened in them.
  • DON’T BE DISTRACTED - Pull over and stop to use electronic devices.
  • DON’T DRIVE IMPAIRED - Have a designated driver or use a ride sharing service.
  • MOVE OVER and SLOW DOWN - for emergency and highway service vehicles.
  • Don't "HANG OUT" in the left lane. Always drive in the right lane except to pass a slower moving vehicle.

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