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Keep the holiday cheer alive – Don’t drink and drive

JACKSON, MISS. – With the Christmas holiday season ending, everyone has sights set on ringing in 2019. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) urges all motorists to have a new year’s resolution of no drinking and driving.

December is an exciting time of year with fun festivities, but it becomes dangerous when drivers get behind the wheel intoxicated. In 2017 in Mississippi, 148 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes.

“With the start of the new year, MDOT has the same goal for 2019 - zero fatalities from drunk driving in our state,” said Melinda McGrath, P.E., MDOT Executive Director. “Drunk driving is never worth it, and the consequences are very severe for those who do it.”

Alcohol-related deaths account for nearly 21 percent of all traffic fatalities in Mississippi. While the number of fatalities has been declining since 2013, even one alcohol-related death on Mississippi roadways is too many.

In 2017, MDOT joined other state departments of transportation and highway safety advocacy groups by adopting the Towards Zero Deaths (TZD) campaign. TZD is a national safety strategy to bring stakeholders together towards a common vision – a highway system free of fatalities through a sustained decline in transportation-related deaths and injuries. To learn more about the TZD initiative, visit

“Zero deaths on highways should be the goal for Mississippi. There is never a valid excuse for getting behind the wheel if any alcohol has been consumed,” McGrath said. “If you do decide to drink, plan ahead. Before going out to celebrate, make sure a designated driver can get you to and from your destination safely. Remember, a designated driver is not someone who drank the least, but someone who has not been drinking at all.”

Getting to the New Year’s celebration is important. Here are additional tips from MDOT that can help motorists arrive at their destination safely:

· Always buckle up. Seat belts save lives and can be your best defense against injury or death.

· Avoid all distractions. Concentrate on the road and your surroundings.

· Slow down and be mindful of construction zones and workers in the area.

· Watch out for wildlife. Around dawn and dusk, you are more likely to encounter deer.

Slow down and use extra caution while driving during these times.

· Be aware of other drivers. Don’t assume everyone is driving as safely as you are.

“We hope everyone enjoys celebrating the new year with loved ones,” McGrath said. “Share with your loved ones the importance of planning ahead and never getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

Surviving the New Year’s Eve drive this year—and making it to the next year—can be as simple as being responsible and making good decisions. If you believe that someone may be driving under the influence, pull over and call local law enforcement immediately.

For more tips on traveling safely this holiday season, visit

For the most current travel and traffic information, visit, download the free MDOT Traffic app or like and follow @MississippiDOT on Facebook and Twitter.


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