IN A matter of hours, revellers across France will see in the New Year - and those lucky enough to be among the hundreds of thousands on the Champs Elysee will be treated to a 15-minute light show on the iconic Arc de Triomphe as the clock ticks down to midnight.
Party-goers have been warned not to drink and drive on what road safety campaigners have dubbed the “evening of greatest danger”.
According to an annual survey commissioned by Prévention Routière and insurance associations, nearly 50% of French people plan to drive on New Year’s Eve. Half of them, the survey has found, have "made no special provision" for getting home.
The organisation Prevention Routiere has unveiled a website - called rentrerenvie - which encourages anyone heading out this evening to consider beforehand how they will get home safely.
The website is accompanied by an TV and social media campaign featuring the hashtag #RentrerEnVie.
Jean-Yves Salaun, Director General of Prévention Routière, told France Info that many people do not understand how long it takes alcohol to leave their system and urged everyone to think ahead and arrange overnight accommodation, nominate a non-drinking designated driver, or take advantage of taxis or public transport.
The advice comes after interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve predicted that the number of people killed on France’s roads will rise 5% in 2014.
There were 3,268 fatalities in 2013 - 20% of them attributed to alcohol. Although figures for 2014 are not yet available, Mr Cazeneuve told BFMTV that he expected the numbers of dead and injured this year to be higher.
The ministry is working to cutting the number of road fatalities in France to less than 3,000 by 2020.