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December 19. 2013 8:35PM

Police warn of holiday pitfalls

NASHUA — With holiday parties and family gatherings beginning this weekend and lasting throughout the new year, authorities are reminding residents to use common sense when celebrating.

"The holidays can be a difficult time for a lot of people," said Lt. Denis Linehan of the Nashua Police Department.

Relatives who have long-standing feuds may see each other for the first time in awhile, and if alcohol is involved, Linehan said it could have serious consequences.

Local police have dealt with domestic violence incidents on Christmas Day in years past, and Linehan said a lot of the problems begin with alcohol.

"You definitely want to try to have that level of sobriety so you can reason," he said. While it is difficult to prevent domestic situations, Linehan said people are often aware of potential problems before they escalate. If a problematic encounter could take place this holiday season, Linehan is encouraging people to take the high road and avoid it altogether by not attending the gathering or party.

And, even with the most festive and happy party celebration, individuals must remember to not drink and drive, said Linehan. While this seems like common sense, it is always good to remind people of the dangers of drinking and driving — not just for the buzzed driver, but for other vehicles and families sharing the roadway, he said.

"We definitely would encourage folks to make sure they have someone to rely on to get them home safely," said Linehan. Drunken driving, coupled with black ice or snow-covered roadways, can be treacherous, police said.

On Thursday, the New Hampshire State Police issued a statement reminding drivers about the deaths that have already occurred on roadways throughout the state this year.

"Saving lives on New Hampshire roadways is a top priority, and we need everyone's help to do it," said Col. Robert Quinn of the New Hampshire State Police. "Making the choice to drive a vehicle after you've been drinking is not worth the risk of killing yourself or someone else."

So far this year, there have been 117 fatal crashes on New Hampshire roads, with 128 people having lost their lives in the accidents.

State police, along with the New Hampshire Driving Toward Zero Coalition, are hoping to reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities on local roadways this holiday season and year round.

Authorities also stressed that over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs do not mix with alcohol.

And then there's always the winter weather.

"We are now experiencing winter driving conditions across New Hampshire, and that can limit visibility and require slower speeds," Chris Clement, New Hampshire Department of Transportation Commissioner, said in a statement. "It is extremely important to be alert and aware when driving in winter conditions. Drivers should plan ahead, give themselves extra time to reach their destination safely and allow additional room between their vehicles and others."
Don't take chances, he said, recommending the use of designated drivers, taxis and community sober ride programs this holiday. Anyone who witnesses an erratic driver should call police, and anyone who believes that an intoxicated individual may try to drive home should confiscate the person's keys and help find them an alternative ride home.


khoughton@newstote.com


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