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Resources, Forsyth officials offer free rides, advice on safe New Year’s Eve celebrations
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With New Year’s festivities around the corner, people worldwide are making resolutions for 2017 — many of which center on health, wealth and happiness.

In order to keep revelers safe and healthy as they ring in 2017, law enforcement officials in Forsyth County and across the United States are urging drivers to slow down, buckle up and steer clear of the roads if alcohol has been consumed.

In Georgia, police are cracking down on aggressive and drunk drivers, according to a Governor’s Office of Highway Safety news release.

“With the number of traffic deaths in Georgia this year having already surpassed the total number for all of 2015, law enforcement officers will not be lenient for violators they stop during the holiday travel period,” the release said.

To date, the number of people who have died in traffic crashes in Georgia is up 5 percent than the same time in 2015, which saw 1,432 crash deaths, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

More than 60 percent of those killed in traffic crashes this year in Georgia were not wearing seatbelts.

“You can expect a lot of visibility and you can expect a lot of blue lights because troopers and law en-forcement officers are going to hold people very close to the vest to help make sure they make it safe-ly to their destinations,” said Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “Don’t be in a hurry because that tends to lead people to speed and to engage in other be-haviors behind the wheel that cause traffic crashes.”

With one out of every four traffic deaths in Georgia caused by a drunk or drugged driver, law enforcement officials statewide — and in Forsyth County, too — are not kidding around.

“If you choose to partake in [drinking] adult beverages, make sure you have a plan to get home safely,” said Cpl. Pete Sabella, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

Drivers should also be careful on New Year’s Day, according to data from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, or IIHS, which showed the first of the year has consistently been the deadliest day for alcohol-related crashes.

“IIHS researchers found that every New Year’s Day, an average of 70 lives were lost in crashes in which at least one driver, pedestrian or bicyclist had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher,” the IIHS website said. “Sixty-two percent of the average of 113 crash deaths on Jan. 1 were due to alcohol impairment. That is nearly double the overall impairment rate of 35 percent during the 2011-15 period.”

Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, echoed Sabella and advised drivers to make a plan to get home.

“You know what you are going to wear and bring to your holiday parties, and you also need to plan for how you are going to get home,” he said. “If you are going to have more than one alcoholic beverage, then you need to have someone drive you home because .08 is the legal blood alcohol limit in Georgia.”

AAA and Bud Light have teamed up to give drivers a free ride home in Georgia with the “Tow to Go” program that runs until 6 a.m. on Monday, January 2.

Since 1998, “Tow to Go” has removed more than 24,000 impaired drivers off the road by offering free tow and rides to a safe place within a 10-mile radius to drivers.

Drivers can also find a ride home by downloading the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety “Drive Sober, Georgia” app, which is available for free. The app provides a list of cab companies and other ride services in cities across Georgia.