Pedestrian Peril This New Year's Eve

Walking home drunk on New Year's Eve may not be as safe as previously thought.

ByABC News
December 30, 2009, 11:05 AM

Dec. 31, 2009— -- Safe travel this New Year's goes beyond having a designated driver: On top of the usual "Don't drink and drive," ER doctors this year are saying, "Don't drink and walk" -- at least not without a "designated walker."

In the past, you may have flipped a coin with your friends to decide who will stay sober and be the designated driver during the holiday festivities, but chances are you never considered it necessary to designate someone as a sober walker to escort you home after an evening of New Year's drinking.

According to Dr. Thomas Esposito at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill., pedestrian safety is something you may want to consider this year, even if you haven't been hitting the holiday punch.

In his work as chief of the trauma division/surgical care at the Loyola University Chicago Stitch School of Medicine, Esposito sees the "tragic aftermath" of drunken walking after New Year's parties.

"Alcohol impairs your ability to walk and navigate, especially if you're in the dark," Esposito says.

"Throw on top of that [that] the early morning hours of New Year's Day are probably one of the most dangerous times on the road for pedestrians," and Esposito says that having a "chaperone -- someone who is not impaired," to walk home those who've been drinking is a good idea.