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Drinking, Walking on New Year's Eve Risky Business
Date:12/31/2009

More pedestrians killed on Jan. 1 than on any other day of the year, research shows

THURSDAY, Dec. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Be careful where you walk this New Year's Eve, particularly if you have been toasting the night away, because researchers say that Jan. 1 is the deadliest day of the year for pedestrians.

A study from the journal Injury Prevention found there are more pedestrians killed on New Year's Day than any other day of the year. From 1986 to 2002, a total of 410 pedestrians were killed on that date.

In many situations, intoxication -- on the part of the walker -- plays a role: 58 percent of those killed had been drinking, the study authors noted.

The dangers of driving while intoxicated are well-publicized during the holiday season, but the dangers of walking while intoxicated get little attention, Dr. Thomas Esposito, a trauma surgeon at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill., said in a news release from the school.

"Alcohol impairs your physical ability to walk and to drive," Esposito said. "It impairs your judgment, reflexes and coordination."

For Esposito, raising awareness about the dangers to pedestrians is personal. While walking home from a New Year's party, Esposito's cousin was killed by a driver believed to be sober.

"His death has had a devastating effect on the family, especially on his parents," Esposito said. "They required a lot of professional, psychological support and they really have never been the same, especially around the holidays."

It's not just during the holidays that alcohol can factor into pedestrian deaths. In 2007, an estimated 37 percent of pedestrians aged 16 and older who were killed had blood alcohol concentrations at or above 0.08 percent, which is the legal definition for drunk driving in most states, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. More than half of the pedestrians who were killed at nig
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