Alcohol-related Traffic Deaths Jump on New Year’s Eve

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niaaa-graph-updatedROCKVILLE, Md., Dec. 22–(ENEWSPF)–Some New Year’s predictions are, tragically, very reliable. For example, significantly more people are likely to die in alcohol-related traffic crashes on New Year’s Eve than on other mid-week winter evenings.

Just look at the numbers. A recent analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics shows that, by the time our country finished ringing in the year 2004 (the last year for which data are available), 90 people had died in alcohol-related traffic crashes in the 12-hour span between 6:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and 5:59 a.m. the next morning. Four weeks later, on the same night of the week, the death toll dropped dramatically to 20.

Myths Persist

Even though many of us are aware of the higher rates of alcohol-related traffic fatalities on New Year’s Eve, myths about drinking and driving persist—myths that, for some, can prove fatal. Scientific studies supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) on how alcohol affects our brains and bodies provide important information that challenges these commonly-held—but incorrect—beliefs. These myths are related to how quickly alcohol affects the body and how long these effects can last.

Sobering Up — Myths and Facts

Myth: You can drive as long as you are not slurring words or acting erratically.

Fact: The skills and coordination needed for driving are compromised long before the obvious signs of intoxication are visible. In addition, the sedative effects of alcohol, combined with the late night hours, place you at much greater risk of nodding off or losing attention behind the wheel.

Myth: Drink coffee. Caffeine will sober you up.

Fact: Caffeine may help with drowsiness, but it doesn't counteract the effect of alcohol on decision-making or coordination. The body needs time to metabolize (break down) alcohol and even more time to return to normal. There are no quick cures — only time will help.

Alcohol’s Effects Begin Quickly

Many New Year’s revelers get into trouble because they generally do not recognize that critical driving-related skills and decision-making abilities are diminshed long before they begin to show the obvious physical signs of intoxication.

Initially, alcohol acts as a stimulant and if you drink you may temporarily feel upbeat and excited. But don’t be fooled. Inhibitions and judgment are soon affected, increasing the chance of making reckless decisions behind the wheel. As more alcohol is consumed, fine motor skills and reaction time begin to suffer and behavior becomes poorly controlled and sometimes aggressive, compromising driving abilities even further. Continued drinking can lead to the slurred speech and loss of coordination and balance that we typically associate with being “drunk.” At higher levels alcohol acts as a depressant, which causes people to become sleepy and sometimes pass out.

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Military Families Speak Out on Holidays Without Loved Ones

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–As we celebrate the holiday season, many are focusing their thoughts and attention on those who cannot be with family members because of service in Iraq.

Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), a national organization of over 3,100 families opposed to the war in Iraq who have relatives or loved ones in the military, has members across the country who are suffering this holiday season with pain, tears and fear rather than holiday cheer.

"I miss Bob every day but the holidays are an especially sad time," said Debbie Whitfield of Pittsburgh, PA whose son-in-law was killed in Iraq in 2005. "Last year as I decorated my house, so many things reminded me ofBob. I hang a stocking for everyone. I took his out and just held it,wondering what to do with it. I don't want my granddaughter to forget her Daddy, but I have to keep reinforcing that he can't come home. Three Christmases ago Bob spent the holidays with us, two Christmases ago we senthim gifts to Iraq and last Christmas we laid a wreath on his grave. I praythat this is over soon so that families will be spared the grief that we live with."

"We have only one child. This year he is in Iraq," said Tim and Laura Kahlor of Temecula, CA, whose son is currently serving his second extended deployment to Iraq with the Army's 1st Armored Division. "We will not decorate, it's too sad, all the memories of unpacking decorations are associated with our son. When Ryan was in Iraq in 2003, he told us to decorate like he was at home. This year he says it will be just another day in Iraq. We wanted to send him a small tree and a Santa hat, but he said he didn't want anything. When you are surrounded by death and trying to survive why would anyone care about celebrating anything?"

"This is probably going to be one of the hardest holidays. It is the baby's first Christmas and my husband won't be here to share it," said Haeley of the Hudson Valley area, NY whose husband is serving in Iraq with the National Guard, under a stop-loss order. "I sometimes want to throw away the ornament that I have for the tree proclaiming this year as our first Christmas together because it's a lie. I want him home so he doesn't have to miss out on anything more with his son."

From their website: Military Families Speak Out is calling on Congress to end funding for the war in Iraq, save what is needed to bring our troops home quickly and safely. Funding the war is not supporting our troops. The way to support our troops is to bring them home now and take care of them when they get here.

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Bigelow Building Quite a Legacy

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Legacy Square At the December 4, 2006 Village board meeting, Jamie Bigelow, President of Bigelow Homes made a presentation giving an update on Legacy Square, Park Forest's newest development being built in the Downtown area.

Mr. Bigelow began with a summary of the work that went into the construction of the models now open on Main Street, “In our original presentation, we said we would have at least three models and one decorated model.  We delivered 6 models, and we delivered 4 decorated models.  We spent a lot of time and energy decorating these models."  Making reference to the former efforts made on the same area, Bigelow reported, "As everyone knows, we were dealing with an uphill battle.  This was a failed project from another developer.  So, we had to get rid of that stigma that was attached to it.  We had [the models] designed by one of the best interior designers in the Midwest, out of Detroit."

Mr. Bigelow acknowledged that there were some residents who did not feel the plan would succeed, “Some of the challenges we faced, there were a lot of naysayers in the general public who thought the project would not succeed.  So we felt it was important to get off to a good start.  We spent over $100,000 on decorating that overcame the stigma of a failed project.  When people walked in they wanted to see that you had your stuff together, that you were professional, that you were presenting a good model.  We did not anticipate having to do that many models, but we felt it was money well spent for us”

Mr. Bigelow continued his presentation with kind words for Park Forest, “We came here to a great village and we wanted to enhance the Village of Park Forest.”  He referenced the work Bigelow Homes has done marketing the development, “We delivered a very aggressive public relations campaign.  Writers like to write about us because we are innovative and we bring innovative solutions and have a reputation for good, quality work. 

"And people are talking about Park Forest.”

Child's room “There was so much good stuff that had been done years ago by some of the residents and some of the public officials in setting up the Downtown.  But we did have to reverse this stigma.  So we worked very hard with our PR to get this story out.”

With respect to houses sold, “We have 21 sales.  We feel the buyers we have now are very solid people, and they want to close on their home in Park Forest.  In our original presentation, we thought we could sell 20 homes by March 31, 2007.  We sold 21 homes by October 31st of this year, 5 months ahead of the deadline.”  With respect to where the new residents are moving from, he said, "There are some people coming out of Chicago."  He also mentioned that some former Park Foresters may be moving back because of the Legacy Square project.  He said one person told him, “'I’ve moved away from Park Forest, I always liked Park Forest.  And this gives me some good, solid housing to come back to Park Forest.'  Some of them bought."

During a tour of the Legacy Square models Sunday, Mr. Steve Augustus, who is buying The Frontier model with the added guest suite, said his house "will be around $220,000 with the extra unit which I can rent out.  That will help pay my taxes."  Asked what sold him on the home, he responded, "The thing that drew me to these guys was it is a great location for where I work, and it's an energy efficient design, which I like."

P1010065Potential new resident Phyllis Jones (left) is seated in a living room of one of the models with Phylicia Jones, Akissa Freund, baby Aniyah, and Joshua Freund.

More pictures of the models on Main St. follow below.

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