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Be Careful: Drunk Drivers Kill 80 People Each New Year's

Most people are aware of New Year's correlation to drunk driving: people go to parties and sometimes celebrate a bit too much before driving home. Michigan law enforcement catches some of the offenders (who have an awful start to the New Year). End of story, right?

Unfortunately, no.

Each New Year's, approximately 80 people die in drunk driver accidents. Experts believe even more will die in the 2011 celebration because the holiday falls on a Saturday. If you are on the roadways on Jan. 1, your chances of dying from a drunk driver are 150 percent higher than normal, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Michigan's Efforts to Curb the Needless Deaths

Last year, 300 people were arrested in Michigan for drunk driving on New Year's; that number will likely be higher this year since the holiday falls on a weekend. Extremely intoxicated drivers face additional punishment now, with Michigan's "super-drunk" laws that target offenders with a blood-alcohol concentration of .17 or higher.

Detroit and Ann Arbor police departments, along with most others statewide, will have increased patrol efforts this weekend. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration is encouraging law enforcement to step up enforcement in accordance with its Over the Limit - Under Arrest campaign.

Stay out of Harm's Way

The easiest way to avoid a deadly car crash is to stay in on New Year's Eve. Understandably, this simply isn't an option for many: there are too many great parties, music venues or bars offering a top-notch place to celebrate 2011. However, there are a few reminders to help prevent you from being a drunk driver victim:

Have a designated driver: a friend, taxi driver or bus driver have a good chance at getting you home safely.

Be cautious: assume that other drivers are under the influence and exercise extreme caution if you are driving this evening.

Prevent an accident: if you have a buddy that is set on driving after drinking too much, stop him. Remind him about New Year's annual car-crash death toll and that over 300 will be arrested in Michigan this holiday. If that doesn't work, tell him that the average DUI costs $10,000 - assuming you don't kill or injure anybody.

Have a very happy, and very safe, 2011!

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