Of the 9.2 million Southern Californians expected to travel for the Year-End holidays, the Auto Club projects 8.1 million of them will take road trips. With the increase in traffic on the roads and more holiday gatherings and celebrations, the Auto Club, MADD, law enforcement, L.A. Metro and Uber teamed up to remind drivers to “Arrive Alive This Season. Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.”
“We want everyone to have a memorable holiday season that is full of joy and laughter and not for a tragedy that could have easily been prevented,” said Auto Club Corporate Communications Manager Doug Shupe. “Please think safety first and foremost this holiday season and don’t do anything that could forever change your life or the lives of other people.”
According to NHTSA, 11,564 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes in 2020. So far this year in the City of Los Angeles, 16 people have died in DUI crashes. In addition to impaired driving, distracted driving also poses a threat to everyone on the roads. NHTSA reports 3,142 died in distracted driving crashes in 2020. Over the last three years, LAPD officers have issued nearly 58,000 citations to drivers for using a cell phone when not hands-free, mostly for texting while driving. Traffic safety advocates and law enforcement remind drivers to put their phones out of reach and focus only on the road ahead. They also urge everyone who plans to celebrate the holidays with alcohol to have a designated driver, alternative transportation, or a place to stay overnight when celebrating.
“Drunk driving is not acceptable behavior. It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for a holiday party,” said MADD California State Executive Director Patricia Rillera. “There are too many resources to get you home safely. There are no excuses for impaired driving.”
Deadra Johnson, a MADD Victim Volunteer, lost her 26-year-old son, Brandon Simpson, to a DUI crash in South Los Angeles in 2017. Brandon was driving home when an impaired driver going 78 mph on a surface street, ran a red light and t-boned Brandon’s car, killing him.
“It almost tore my family apart. It didn’t affect just our family, it affected everybody he knew, all his friends and extended family as well,” said Johnson. “It’s just not the same anymore. Our whole family dynamic has changed.”
Simpson had just graduated from Los Angeles Trade–Technical College with a degree in plumbing and was about to apply for a business license to start his own plumbing business at the time of his death. Johnson says the loss of her son is particularly difficult this time of year.
“He loved the holidays, so he would always help me in the kitchen. I have no daughters and Brandon’s grandmother taught him how to make sweet potato pies and cakes, so he would always make the holiday desserts for us,” said Johnson. “Around this time of year, it is always hard because there’s no Brandon.”
Los Angeles Police and California Highway Patrol will be out in full force this holiday season to prevent impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding and other reckless driving behaviors.
“The holidays are a special time of year for many, and we want our community members to enjoy this season responsibly and safely,” said LAPD Transit Services Bureau Deputy Chief Donald Graham. “We need commitment from drivers that they’ll help keep the roads safe and if they don’t, we will be there.”
Drivers are also reminded to obey all traffic safety laws, including the state’s Slow Down Move Over Law. This law requires drivers to move over one lane, if it is safe to do so, or slow down when approaching an incident where tow truck providers, police, firefighters, emergency medical service crews or municipal vehicles are stopped on the side of a freeway or surface street.
“Deaths and injuries can be avoided if drivers slow down and move over when approaching emergency vehicles with lights flashing,” said CHP Lieutenant Martin Geller. “Please give roadside rescuers the space they need to safely help stranded drivers or do road repairs.”
Meanwhile providers of alternative transportation options are encouraging drivers to consider using them.
“Drinking and driving is never a good option during the holiday season, so Metro is very proud to do its part to offer free rides on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve,” said Glendale City Councilmember and Metro Board Chair Ara J. Najarian. “We want to ensure your journey around Los Angeles County is a safe one, so Go Metro and leave the driving to us.”
“The impact impaired driving has on our society is emotionally damaging, costly, and oftentimes life altering,” said Uber, Public Policy Manager John L. Finley. “As a rideshare leader, Uber is committed to doing our part to be a reliable ride within reach and help put an end to impaired driving. We are proud to stand with MADD, the Auto Club of Southern California, and law enforcement in encouraging everyone to “Arrive Alive” this Holiday Season.”
To prevent impaired driving:
- Remember it is never OK to drink and drive, even after only one alcoholic beverage.
- Designate a non-drinking driver for the entire evening.
- Use Uber, Lyft or public transportation. L.A. Metro will once again offer FREE service on all Metro-operated bus and rail lines on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
- Make plans before parties begin to stay overnight instead of driving home.
- If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement.
- Take keys away from friends or family who are about to drink and drive and help them get home safely.
To prevent distracted driving:
- Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
- If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
- If you have to call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
- If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
- Speak up if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
- Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.