Between the midnight countdowns and New Year's eve kisses, sparkling champagne toasts and plates of boiled black-eyed peas — an average of 132 car crashes occur in the United States, making January 1 the most dangerous day of the year for drivers.
Many of those crashes are alcohol-related, but an influx of fatigued drivers traveling in the dark and early hours of the morning also contribute to the high accident rate on New Year's Day. Whether you plan on drinking or just need a safe ride home between December 31 and January 1, here are five free services you should use for your safety and the safety of others.
1. Public Transportation
Many cities across the nation waive public transportation fees on New Year's Eve in an effort to reduce drinking and driving. Los Angeles and Austin are among several metro areas offering free rides on bus and rail. In Chicago, however, public transit will cost you ... all bus and train rides are one penny in the Windy City this New Year's.
Additionally, some city government officials help with taxi rides on New Year's Eve. In Springfield, Illinois, for example, you can request a voucher from Lincoln Yellow Taxi Cabs courtesy of the city police and fire departments.
2. Sober Ride Programs
Free sober ride programs around the country help people who have been drinking get home safely. In Clarksville, Tennessee, a bus or van will arrive within 15 minutes of your call and take you to your destination. In Santa Clarita, California, Safe Rides offers a free, confidential ride home to teenagers in the area. (Obviously, you should not be drinking if you are under 21, but if you do — please, please do not drive home!) The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has compiled a full list of sober ride programs, which can be viewed here.
3. AAA Holiday Safe Ride
On New Year's Eve, AAA Clubs provide free rides for members and nonmembers alike in many areas of the country, including Florida, Texas, California and Ohio. Rides are confidential and free within a 10-mile radius. Holiday Safe Ride should be used as a last resort only, according to AAA. For a full list of AAA Clubs that offer rides click here.
4. Ride Sharing
Never used a ride sharing service like Lyft or Fasten before? Perfect. Ask a friend who has used ride sharing to send their personal promo code and get $15 to $30 off your first ride. If you regularly use ride sharing, find a friend who doesn't and send them your promo code for a free ride for both of you. Keep your eyes peeled for party invitations and sober ride programs using ride sharing promos. A Boston law firm, for example, bought $5,000 worth of Lyft credits and gave them to residents who pledged not to drink and drive.
Even if you drive yourself to a party or bar and end up drinking, do not drive home. Pay for a cab or ride share, instead. If you're worried about leaving your car in a city parking spot overnight and getting a parking ticket, don't fret. In some cities, including Austin, the city will waive your parking ticket fee on New Year's Eve with proof that you made the smart choice to get a sober ride home.
5. Designated Driver
If you have a friend or family member who is not drinking or going out on New Year's Eve, ask them (nicely) if they wouldn't mind giving you a lift to and from your destination. It's far better that Mom be a little grumpy about picking you up at 2 a.m. than you get behind the wheel after drinking.
Remember, these free rides aren't your only options on New Year's Eve. You can also pay to catch a cab, Uber or Lyft, or even show up at your party in a stretch limousine. (Hey, could be fun!) Sure, paying for a ride might seem expensive, but driving under the influence could mean jail time plus thousands of dollars in fines, or worse, cost someone their life.
From all of us at Aceable, have a safe New Year's Eve and best wishes for 2016.