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Emergency Room Visits Common for Underage Drinkers on New Year's

With tomorrow being New Year's Eve, it makes sense to think about the potential dangers of driving while intoxicated. This time of year often sees increased law enforcement patrols aimed at reducing DUIs, but it also sees an uptick in car accidents related to the use of alcohol.

In fact, a recent study from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that instances of underage drinkers making emergency room visits on New Year's were as much as four times higher than for an average day during the year. Compared to other common party holidays, underage drinker trips to ERs on New Year's were still twice that of the Fourth of July and three times that of Memorial Day.

Beyond just underage drinkers, New Year's is also a time when car accidents and drunk driving are concerns for everybody. The combination of excessive drinking and late hours leads many to attempt traveling when they really should not be on the roads.

According to SAMHSA, the winter holidays are some of the worst times of the year when it comes to alcohol-related traffic fatalities. The agency claims that two to three times as many people die in drunk driving-related crashes during the winter holidays than do during similar time periods the rest of the year. Similarly, the numbers of fatal accidents involving alcohol near the end of December jumps to 40% up from 28% during the rest of December.

Regardless of what you find yourself doing this New Year's, be on the lookout for drivers that may pose a danger on the road and have a happy and safe New Year's Eve.

Source: USA Today, More underage drinkers end up in the ER on New Year's, Michelle Healy 12/30/10

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