Deadly New Year

NYE injury claim (regressive)

Just in case you were thinking that New Year’s Eve is a magical night of celebration, excitement for the year ahead and good natured alcohol-fuelled merriment, here’s the USA Today to remind us it’s not. It’s a great big stinking death-trap of a day.

Take one New Year's Eve. Combine with a Saturday. Now add alcohol – and you have a health and safety nightmare.

At least that's how some emergency room doctors feel about the fast-approaching celebration – which is always an occasion for widespread immoderate drinking and could be worse than usual this year.

Geez Louise. I wonder what those ER doctors from the US would make of an average Friday night in any NHS Emergency Department in the UK. Welcome to binge-drinking central!

The likely results will include car crashes caused by drunk drivers. Some of those drivers will be inexperienced teens who, in a new survey, confess that New Year's Eve is the most likely night for them to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But it doesn't stop there. Alcohol also is a factor in 60% of fatal burns and homicides and 50% of sexual assaults throughout the year, says the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Doctors also see many folks who literally fall down drunk and end up with broken bones and head injuries.

Or ‘having a good time’ as most binge-drinking Brits would describe it.

Strange there’s no mention of setting a firework off in your face just as Big Ben’s peels mark the arrival of the New Year.  People seem pretty adept at that too!

And then there's this: January 1 (which, note, begins right after the midnight toasts) [err, yep, thanks for that] is the deadliest day of the year for pedestrians. Some, no doubt, are hit by drunk drivers. But many are "drunk walking," too: 58% of those killed had high levels of alcohol in their blood, a study found. Drunk walking, on a mile by mile basis, is even riskier than drunk driving, one economist says.

An economist? Why do we need an economist to tell us that? A statistician maybe. A partner from a law firm who sees a spike in personal injury claims from drunk pedestrians perhaps in the New Year. Or even an emergency department doctor who can vouch for the ensuing trauma it causes. But where does an economist fit in with that?

Finally, there are the hangovers. They might not kill you (unless you operate heavy machinery with that next-day headache and brain fog), but they are mighty unpleasant.

Of course, there's one cure for all of these ills: not drinking. Or, if you're not driving, you could try drinking the same moderate amounts that work so nicely for so many people on so many other evenings.

I think in the case of Brits, we should just stick with the ‘not drinking’ message. We seem to have lost all perception of moderation a decade or so ago.

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