The numerals "18" waiting to be placed for the New Year's Even celebration in Times Square Brendan McDermid/Reuters

January 1 has historically been a deadly day for pedestrians and car crashes. Here are some of the many programs intended to mitigate the New Year’s Eve risk.

The first of January is a time for new beginnings, but for far too many people, it is the last day of their life, largely due to the menace of drunk driving.

January 1 was the most deadly day on the calendar for pedestrians between 1998 and 2014, and the second most deadly for car crashes overall, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

As 2017 rolls into 2018, there are more ways than ever to avoid driving drunk, and just as many incentives not to—and it’s not just the prevalence of sobriety checkpoints, or the availability of Ubers and Lyfts. A rather strange consortium of entities, including city governments, insurance companies, alcohol purveyors, and personal injury lawyers, have launched a bevy of initiatives across the country to help people get home safe this New Year’s Eve. Merrymakers, here’s what you should know:

Using public transit to get to and from New Year’s festivities is usually the safest (and most fun!) option available. A number of big city transit agencies will provide free service from the evening of the 31st to the wee hours of the 1st, including:

  • Long Beach
  • Seattle
  • San Francisco
  • Los Angeles
  • Madison, WI
  • Reno
  • Orange County, CA
  • Las Vegas

Six lucky transit agencies will have their free service underwritten by MillerCoors, as part of the beer conglomerate’s Free Rides program (sorry D.C., WMATA was dropped from the sponsorship this year, so you’ll have to pay for transit):

  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Milwaukee
  • Dallas
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • Phoenix

If public transit isn’t a viable option, there’s always towing

In communities where public transit is not a viable option, a number of free towing services have sprung up as a last resort for the poor planner. Waco, Texas, will offer a “Safe Ride Home” program, which provides free rides and towing services for incapacitated persons. The program is partially sponsored by Ben E. Keith Company, a major alcohol distributor.

The insurance giant AAA offers similar holiday safe ride initiatives covering portions of more than twenty states. One such program, “Tow-to-Go,” available across large swaths of the southeast and midwest, is co-sponsored by Anheuser-Busch. By calling 855-2-TOW-2-GO, revelers and their cars can get a free ride home in an AAA tow truck. This holiday season, the Tow-to-Go program expects to provide its 25,000th ride.

Or ridesharing subsidized by… personal injury law firms

Continuing the strange tradition of personal injury firms sponsoring New Year’s transportation seemingly for the publicity, the firm Sutliff & Stout will reimburse taxi and rideshare trips up to $30 in the Houston and Austin metros. Firms in Northern California, Colorado, Louisiana, and central Texas will offer similar rebates this New Year’s Eve.

Of course, for many Uber and Lyft customers, $25 of $30 won’t cover the entire ride, due to huge price surges. Lyft’s driver blog looks forward to the highest ridership in the company’s history. Even as they rake in the dough, Lyft and Uber really do prevent deaths by drunk driving, particularly on boozy nights like New Years, a new study by the Milken Institute claims. For every 1 percent increase in “ridership search intensity on Google Trends,” there were 2.19 fewer lives lost to traffic accidents, the study found, justifying programs like Seattle’s $10 Uber subsidy last New Year’s Eve.  

While many of the entities providing safe transportation options on New Year’s Eve may not be motivated by altruism, they provide an essential public good by protecting us from ourselves.  

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a map of future climate risks in the U.S.
    Maps

    America After Climate Change, Mapped

    With “The 2100 Project: An Atlas for A Green New Deal,” the McHarg Center tries to visualize how the warming world will reshape the United States.

  2. photo: A man boards a bus in Kansas City, Missouri.
    Transportation

    Why Kansas City’s Free Transit Experiment Matters

    The Missouri city is the first major one in the U.S. to offer no-cost public transportation. Will a boost in subsidized mobility pay off with economic benefits?

  3. photo: a Tower Records Japan Inc. store in Tokyo, Japan.
    Life

    The Bankrupt American Brands Still Thriving in Japan

    Cultural cachet, licensing deals, and density explain why Toys ‘R’ Us, Tower Records, Barneys, and other faded U.S. retailers remain big across the Pacific.

  4. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  5. photo: an Uber driver.
    Perspective

    Did Uber Just Enable Discrimination by Destination?

    In California, the ride-hailing company is changing a policy used as a safeguard against driver discrimination against low-income and minority riders.

×