New Year's Day, including those early morning hours after the ball drops at midnight, consistently ranks among the year's deadliest for traffic fatalities — specifically alcohol-related collisions.

Experts in the field are urging you to make the smart and correct decision should you be faced with an opportunity to get behind the wheel after one, or several, drinks, or be the voice of reason should an inebriated loved one be in such a situation.

Around Christmas and New Year's Day in 2018, there were 285 drunk driving-related fatalities nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In all of 2018, "driving while intoxicated" was listed as a contributing factor for 163 fatalities on New Jersey's roads, according to State Police data.

"These are not traffic accidents. They are crashes that are 100% preventable, so we need to be responsible," said Tracy Noble, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "During the holiday season we've got extra traffic on our roadways and families traveling at all hours."

Drunk driving kills more than 10,000 people each year in America, according to NHTSA.

"This is a shared social responsibility. If you have to be that tough person and take somebody's keys, do that," Noble said.

AAA Mid-Atlantic offers the following additional advice to partygoers:

  • Always plan ahead for a designated driver — an individual who is NOT DRINKING at all.
  • Never ride as a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who has been drinking alcohol.
  • As host, always offer alcohol-free beverages.
  • If you encounter an impaired driver on the road, keep a safe distance and ask a passenger to call 911.
  • Remember: prescription and over-the-counter drugs can also impair your ability to drive safely.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.