(KSLA) — If you plan to party on New Year’s Eve, you are urged to make arrangements now to have a safe ride home.
That’s the advice from not only law enforcement agencies from coast to coast, but also by someone who somehow survived a crash involving a drunken driver.
And new numbers show the problem in Louisiana is only getting worse.
The state has risen from 10th to ninth in the rankings of the most dangerous states for impaired driving, according to SafeWise, an online resource for home safety information.
Alcohol impairment is a factor in nearly a third of all traffic deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Breaking down those numbers further, alcohol-related deaths in vehicle crashes in the U.S. show an average of 29 such deaths per day, or one death every 50 minutes.
“Witness said we were travelling between 90 to 100 miles an hour,” James Cathey recalled.
The 39-year-old Bossier City resident cannot remember much about the deadly crash in 2006 that he somehow survived as a passenger in a back seat in a vehicle in Lafayette.
In fact, Cathey did not wake up for three months after the crash.
“At first I said, ‘God, how could you let this happen? God, why did you let, why’d you do this to me?’ God said, ‘No, I didn’t do this to you. You did this to you’.”
Cathey has since spent the past 12 years speaking to countless groups, large and small, through ThinkFirst, a national injury prevention foundation.
He said he serves as a reminder that no matter what you may think, no one is invincible.
It’s still days before New Year’s Eve, but Louisiana State Police already is taking action to combat impaired drivers, specifically with a sobriety checkpoint Saturday night.
The law requires law enforcement agencies that conduct such checkpoints to let the public know, in general terms, where they will be set up and when.
Louisiana state troopers will be somewhere in Bossier Parish from 10 p.m. Saturday until 3 a.m. Sunday.
Trooper Brent Hardy, spokesman for State Police Troop G, said there’s nothing random about where those checkpoints are held.
“We do try to pick strategic locations where we have had a problem," he said.
"Maybe crashes have happened with impaired drivers in the past or a heavy traffic volume that is still safe for us to put on a checkpoint.”
Between taxi cabs, ride-sharing services and the ability to call a friend or relative for help on your cellphone, there’s no reason for anyone to climb behind the wheel impaired and take such a huge gamble with their life and those of others, Hardy said.
“My main message, being a drug recognition expert, is if you feel different, you drive different.”