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

ht had elevated blood alcohol levels, research shows.

Between July 2008 and June 2009, 86 pedestrians aged 16 and older were treated at Loyola University Health System after being struck by cars, and 14 of the patients had blood alcohol concentrations at or above 0.08 percent.

Esposito's advice to those who walk outside at night is, don't put on a black coat and meander along the side of the road. Wear bright clothing, stick to sidewalks and cross at designated crossings. Walk in groups to increase your visibility to drivers and consider walking with a sober pal if you've been drinking.

Drivers also need to be aware of the risks of intoxicated pedestrians, especially in areas where there are lots of bars. And if you're throwing a party, take responsibility for your guests and make sure they don't walk home drunk.

"You have to be able to assess someone's perceived ability to safely get from one place to the other," Esposito stressed. "If their mode of transportation is a car, you do things to prevent them from driving. If that mode of transportation is their legs, then you either drive them or make them stay at home."

Esposito, who is also a professor of surgery and chief of the division of trauma, surgical critical care and burns at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, said in-home injuries can also be blamed on alcohol consumption.

"All the time we see people who have been drinking that have fallen down the stairs or tripped at home and injured themselves," Esposito explained. "Others have decided to pick a fight using a knife or with someone holding a gun."

More information

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has more on pedestrian safety.



-- Jennifer Thomas


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