The head of Eddy County’s DWI Program reminded motorists not to drive impaired during the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holiday even as drunk driving deaths decreased in the County and the State of New Mexico from 2021 to 2022.
In New Mexico alcohol involved crash deaths fell from 163 in 2021 to 98 through November of this year, according to data from the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT).
Eddy County had eight traffic related deaths in 2021, per NMDOT. Through November 2022 there were no traffic deaths in Eddy County from a drunk or impaired driver.
More:Winter greets southeast New Mexico travelers and shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving
Eddy County DWI Program Director Cynthia Sharif said holiday drunk drivers risk not only their own safety but the safety of others while traveling.
“The life you save could be yours or somebody else’s,” she said.
New Mexico State Police will be doing its part to contain drunk drivers during the upcoming holiday driving period, said Lt. Mark Soriano, spokesperson.
He said State Police would conduct a Combined Accident Reduction Effort (CARE) operation to keep travelers safe during the upcoming Christmas season.
“The New Mexico State Police will use sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols, and regular traffic safety patrols looking for impaired drivers, aggressive drivers, speeding violations, and seatbelt violations to keep our roads/highways safe in New Mexico and ensure travelers reach their destinations safely,” he said.
State Police also conducted Operation CARE over the Thanksgiving holiday in November and arrested 17 drunk drivers across New Mexico, read a news release.
More:N.M. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan and MADD push USDOT on advanced drunk driving technology
In December 2019, 837 people across the U.S. lost their lives in alcohol related traffic crashes according to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
That’s about 8 percent of the about 10,000 people killed in motor vehicle crashes that year involving an alcohol-impaired driver. Sixty-eight percent of the crashes had at least one driver with a BAC of .15 or higher, read NHTSA’s website.
Nearly one-third of those deaths in the United States involved drunk drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) at .08 grams per deciliter or above, per the NHTSA website.
Drunk driving crashes across the U.S. increased 14 percent from 2019 to 2020 and everyday around 32 people die from drunk driving crashes, according to NHTSA.
Sharif and Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway encouraged those celebrating New Year’s Eve to contact the City of Carlsbad Transit Department for a free safe ride from 6 p.m. Dec. 31 until 2 a.m. Jan. 1.
Janway said pre-registration before New Year’s Eve was encouraged by calling 575-887-2121.
“You can call again when you are ready to go home,” he said.
Soriano said New Mexico State Police encourages motorists to get plenty of rest and remain alert while traveling. He said motorists should allow extra time for travel.
More:City services altered for upcoming holidays
AAA New Mexico predicts more than 8 million residents living in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States, including New Mexico, would travel 50 miles or more from home during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday.
In a press release, AAA noted a potential 4 percent increase in travel from last year across in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, and Nevada.
AAA figures indicate 7.5 million in the Mountain region would travel by vehicle, 650,000 would fly and 264,000 would either travel by boat, train, or bus.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.