Drivers warned on safety as 90% plan to drink on NYE

Almost 90% of French people expect to drink alcohol this New Year’s Eve (NYE), but only a fraction of them have plans in place to avoid a drink-driving accident, according to a new study.

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The most recent annual study by the road safety associations Prévention Routière and Attitude Prévention found that 88% of French people plan to drink alcohol to celebrate the New Year, with 62% saying they anticipate drinking three glasses or more.

And yet, of the 50% of these drinkers who plan to return home by car after the NYE festivities, just 41% had any concrete plans in place to avoid taking the wheel while over the alcohol limit.

Last year, 16 people in France died due to road traffic accidents after NYE celebrations, which is almost double the normally-expected number of road deaths at any other time of year.

In 2016, alcohol was a factor in 29% of fatal accidents, with 819 people killed, according to news source 20 Minutes.

The problem often comes when people falsely believe that if they “wait a while” after drinking before getting behind the wheel, they will eliminate the risk, the study said.

“Lots of French people say ‘I’ll wait before I drive’, but people often underestimate their own drinking habits and also do not know how long it takes for the body to process alcohol,” explains Anne Lavaud, of Prévention Routière, which has launched a campaign on the subject, named #BienRentrer , Mode d’Emploi.

“We only process [and eliminate] around 0.1g/l of blood in one hour,” she added, meaning that for people drinking two or more glasses, ‘waiting a while’ before driving is not a safe strategy.

Drinkers who plan to return from NYE celebrations by car are advised to use other solutions, including leaving their own car somewhere safe and using taxis, car-sharing (with a driver who has not drunk alcohol), or using public transport - the latter of which is often free in many towns in France over December 31-January 1.

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