EMERYVILLE – Ringing in the New Year should not include a visit to the hospital or behind bars for drunk driving. If you’ve been drinking during end of the year celebrations, AAA Northern California will take you and your car home for free.
AAA’s Tipsy Tow program is open to everyone. You do not need to be a AAA member to take advantage of this service to the community.
AAA will offer the service to drinking drivers from 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, December 31to 6 a.m. January 1st, in Northern California. Drivers, potential passengers, party hosts, bartenders, and restaurant managers can call 800-222-4357 (AAA-HELP) for a free tow home of up to ten miles. Just tell the AAA operator, “I need a Tipsy Tow,” and a truck will be on its way.
The service will provide a one-way ride for the driver and vehicle to the driver’s home. If there are additional passengers who need a ride, they will be taken to the driver’s home as long as there is room for them to be transported safely in the tow truck. You cannot make a reservation.
“Everybody wants to have fun at a New Year’s party,” said Cynthia Harris, spokesperson for AAA Northern California. “But if you’ve been drinking, don’t get behind the wheel. Give AAA a call and we’ll make sure you get home safely.”
According to 2010 statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes. That is one death every 51 minutes. As little as one drink can impair vision, steering, braking, judgment, and reaction time.
Nationally, drunk-driving crashes accounted for about 36 percent of highway deaths of young people age 16 to 24, according to 2008 statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As little as one drink can impair vision, steering, braking, judgment, and reaction time.
AAA estimates that a first time DUI conviction in California can cost up to $12,000 in fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees, and added insurance expenses. You can’t put a price tag on a crash that causes an injury or death.
The latest survey from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed little change in motorist behavior versus previous years, in regards to “do as I say, not as I do” attitude about alcohol impairment:
91 percent of drivers believe it is completely unacceptable for somebody to drive when they think they may have had too much to drink.
92 percent of drivers think that people driving after alcohol pose a somewhat or very serious threat to their personal safety.
41 percent of drivers think drunk drivers are a bigger problem today compared to three years ago.
Despite this, one-in-eight admit to driving when they thought their alcohol level might have been close to or over the legal limit at least once in the past year.
When it comes to prescription drug use and driving, Americans report feeling even less concerned, with just over a quarter reporting feeling the same “very serious” threat to their personal safety. However, many of these drugs, along with over-the-counter medications, can impair a driver in similar ways as alcohol. Previous studies have found that a single dose of some cold and allergy medications can have the same effect on driving as being above the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration, and certain antidepressants have been shown to increase crash risk by up to 41 percent.
“Just because a doctor prescribes a drug, or you can purchase it over-the-counter doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe to use while driving,” says Cynthia Harris, AAA Northern California spokesperson. “Always discuss potential side effects and interactions with your doctor or pharmacist before getting behind the wheel.”
To educate drivers on the impact that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can have on safe driving ability, the AAA Foundation developed RoadwiseRX – a free, interactive tool that allows users to input various medications and check for side effects and interactions that can lead to driver impairment.
AAA Northern California offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to more than 4.1 million members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 114 years ago.