Advocate editorial board opinion: Keep yourself safe to enjoy the new year

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Dec. 30, 2010 at 6:30 a.m.

New Year's Eve is here, and with it comes joy, celebration and togetherness as we bring in 2011. On the other hand, the festive night can bring sorrow and devastating loss - usually because of overindulgence in alcoholic beverages mixed with driving a motor vehicle.

So we urge you to please plan accordingly for the wonderful celebration, so you can avoid such tragedy. Choose a designated driver, one who will not partake in alcohol. Or call some of the free services to transport you or your friends home that night.

Citizen's Medical Center once again is offering the Make Our Area Safe for the Holidays program, or M*A*S*H. All one has to do is call the phone number on New Year's Eve to arrange for a ride. And Cesar's Taxi also is offering free rides New Year's Eve from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. Saturday.

We know that many will not plan, thinking something like, "It could never happen to me." If you are in this mind-set, know the odds are against you.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has designated the period from Friday through Sunday as the New Year's holiday period, and during this time, DPS troopers will be out full strength, looking for hazardous drivers, such as driving while intoxicated, speeders, following too close, cutting in and out of traffic and drivers and passengers not wearing their seatbelts. The Victoria County Sheriff's Department and the Victoria Police Department also will be patrolling.

While some think they can drive because they don't show any of the symptoms of being drunk - slurred speech or acting erratically, the truth is that alcohol impairs decision-making and coordination. And this lessens the odds of being safe for the driver and others, including pedestrians, while increasing the odds of being arrested for driving while intoxicated.

One other factor is the weather. The National Weather Service forecasts a cloudy sky with a low of 41 degrees New Year's Eve. So the weather outlook doesn't appear to be hazardous. However, we urge those who set off fireworks to be careful not to cause fires. The dry and drought-like conditions continue, despite the couple of inches received recently. And remember, setting off fireworks in the city limits of Victoria is prohibited.

We think that if precautions are taken on this special night, we can all enjoy bringing in the start of a new year that holds hope for a better and prosperous future. Have a happy but safe New Year's.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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