How To Drive Safely on New Year's Eve

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To drive safely on New Year's Eve, it's crucial to prioritize vigilance and preparedness amidst the unique challenges of the night. If you must brave the roads, take extra caution should you travel at night due to poor visibility and potentially sharing the road with drunk drivers. Be mindful that the weather during this time of year can be unforgiving and equally dangerous as any drunk driver.

Keep reading to learn about New Year’s safety tips for driving.

Key Takeaways

  • 2020 had a total of 209 alcohol-related vehicle fatalities during the New Year’s and Christmas holiday period.
  • Other hazards to watch out for on the road include severe winter weather and congested traffic on the roads due to the holiday.
  • Keeping an emergency kit that includes first-aid supplies, water, food, blankets and safety equipment like jumper cables and flares in your vehicle is recommended.
  • Drivers are advised to maintain clean windshields, increase following distances and avoidfocus on lane markers when driving at night to enhance safety.

Is It Dangerous To Drive on New Year’s Eve?

Driving on New Year's Eve can be more dangerous compared to other nights due to the higher presence of drunk drivers, traffic congestion and bad weather, just to name a few reasons.

How Many DUIs Occur on New Year’s?

Drunk driving New Year’s Eve statistics show that there were 209 drunk-driving-related fatalities during the New Year’s and Christmas holiday period in 2020.[1] Drivers should always designate a sober driver or arrange a rideshare service if they plan on drinking during the New Year’s holiday. In addition, all drivers should drive extra defensively and be watchful for other drivers who may be drunk.

What Are the Most Common Driving Dangers on New Year’s Eve?

Weather and other drivers always pose a risk when you’re on the road, especially during the holidays.

Most Common Driving Dangers on New Year’s Eve

Drunk Drivers

As is with any celebratory holiday, alcohol will usually be made plentiful on New Year's Eve. At the very least, you can expect champagne for the midnight toast and a higher likelihood of encountering a tipsy or drunk driver while driving home from your party. If you must drive after the midnight toast, then be sure to drive extra carefully.

Increased Traffic

Traffic on New Year’s Eve can be higher than normal since people may be traveling to other places to celebrate. Higher traffic volumes can lead to more New Year’s Eve accidents, especially when combined with less-than-sober drivers on the road.

Snow, Ice or Freezing Conditions

Of course, should you find yourself on the road, you will likely find that the weather isn't exactly ideal for being behind the wheel. New Year's finds itself in the winter, meaning some places will have rain, snow and potentially heavy winds, all of which make it dangerous to drive on the road. Consider that an average of 21% of car accidents (nearly 1,235,000) are due to weather conditions.[2]


Ringing in the New Year involves staying up until midnight and driving at night doesn’t offer the best visibility conditions.

As a result, make sure your headlights are properly functioning, your windshields are clear and if possible, drive to your destination when the sun is still out and possibly stay overnight at the home of whoever is hosting the party.


After staying up all night to celebrate the New Year, there may be drivers on the road who are tired from the festivities. This can lead to poor judgment where drivers will try fighting through the sleepiness instead of pulling over and getting some rest or grabbing a coffee. Dozing off while driving can easily lead to accidents.


The excitement and distractions of New Year's celebrations can divert a driver’s attention from the road. These can include fireworks, bonfires or perhaps loud partygoers who have wandered into the street for some fresh air.

New Year’s Eve Safety Tips for Drivers

From having emergency supplies ready to utilizing public transportation, we've provided several ways you can prepare yourself this New Year's holiday.

1. Don’t Drink and Drive

Even one drink can impair coordination, reaction time and decision-making.[3] To safely enjoy cocktails on New Year’s Eve and avoid drunk driving:

  1. Pre-plan a designated driver when going out with a group
  2. Use public transport or rideshare services like Uber or Lyft
  3. Consider hosting at home, and if guests drink, offer to have them stay over
  4. Prevent anyone who has been drinking from driving by taking their keys and arranging a cab or rideshare for them

2. Have an Emergency Kit Ready

Be prepared for car breakdowns and other such emergencies by maintaining a well-stocked safety kit in your vehicle. This kit should include basic first-aid supplies, bottled water and non-perishable food items. Other items may also include blankets, phone chargers and flashlights.

Also, make sure your vehicle has jumper cables in case another car or truck passes by. You can also purchase a mobile jumper kit that can start your battery without needing another vehicle. It may also be a good idea to add roadside assistance to your auto policy.

3. Be Cautious When Nighttime Driving

Nighttime driving demands extra caution due to the possibility of running into high-intensity discharge (HID) and LED headlights in modern vehicles, which are much brighter than average headlights. The increased intensity can create a visual hazard while driving. To mitigate this:

  • Avoid staring into oncoming vehicle lights
  • Keep your windshield clean to reduce glare
  • Increase the distance between you and the vehicle behind you within reason.
  • Do not exceed the speed limit
  • Pull over if need be to allow other drivers to pass
  • Slow down when driving in the dark

How To Get Car Insurance Before Traveling on New Year’s Eve

To secure the best auto insurance deal as the New Year approaches, it's prudent to evaluate a range of quotes, ideally from three to five different insurers. These providers typically seek information about your car, such as its make, model and year, the number of drivers to be covered under the policy and your driving history. Gathering this information for each insurer separately can be quite a task.

Fortunately, services like SmartFinancial make this process more efficient. By filling out just one comprehensive form about your insurance needs and financial considerations, you can swiftly discover a car insurance plan that suits your specific requirements. For a free insurance quote, simply input your zip code in the space provided below.

Ring in the New Year With a More Affordable Auto Policy!


Is New Year's Eve a safe night to drive?

New Year's Eve can be a dangerous time to drive due to drunk drivers and adverse weather conditions. It's best to plan a night-in during New Year's to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

Is it better to drive on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day?

Since 46% of motor vehicle crash deaths occur from 6:00 pm to 3:00 am the next morning, it is likely safer to drive on New Year’s Day when driving conditions are clearer and you are not as fatigued. Only 21% of motor vehicle fatalities occurred between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. according to the most recent data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.[4]

Is New Year’s Eve a bad day to travel by car?

New Year's Eve can have a lot of bad traffic mixed with drunk drivers and bad weather, making it a less than ideal time to be on the road.


  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” Accessed Dec. 2, 2023.
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation “How Do Weather Events Impact Roads?” Accessed Dec. 2, 2023.
  3. Dream Recovery. “Will Alcohol Consumption Affect My Judgment?” Accessed Dec. 2, 2023.
  4. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “Fatality Facts 2021.” Accessed Dec. 4, 2023.

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