BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how people across the globe will ring in the new year. In Maryland, gatherings are restricted and COVID curfews are in effect.
Still, Maryland State Police will be out in full force making sure people are safe if they choose to travel.
Impaired driving is an annual concern on New Year’s Eve, so police are urging revelers who drink to either choose a designated driver or use a ridesharing app to get home safely at the end of the night.
Many Baltimoreans said their celebrations this year will be low-key.
“I’m staying at home with my cat and having a wonderful time,” Isabel Sangiorgi said.
Michael McGee said this year, his celebration will be limited to himself, his wife and their kid.
“We’re going to ring in the new year the best we can,” Michael McGee said.
“Normally I would be out partying at somebody’s club or gathering, but due to the pandemic, I’ll just be home having a couple family members over and drinking,” Siani Williams said.
Like many, Walter Solorzano canceled his traditional travel plans.
“I usually go back home to El Salvador for the holidays,” he said.
This year, he’ll spend the evening with a few close friends.
“Basically stay(ing) at home, have a couple drinks and just be happy that this year is over, I guess,” he said.
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According to AAA, there is a 30% decline nationally and in Maryland in terms of people traveling for the holiday.
“Obviously, we know that some people will still make that choice to celebrate but we’re asking that motorists particularly do so responsibly,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Ragina Ali said.
In 2019, Maryland reported 151 alcohol-related fatalities and 3,200 injuries as a result of impaired driving around the new year, Ali said.
According to the Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office, an average of 145 people died from impaired driving crashes annually between 2014 and 2018. They also report 159 people died from distracted driving crashes and 32 from aggressive driving crashes in the same time period.
#DYK According to @zerodeathsMD, an average of 145 people died from impaired driving crashes, 159 died from distracted driving crashes and 32 from aggressive driving crashes annually from 2014-2018 in the state. Don't be a statistic this #NewYearsEve. pic.twitter.com/htpjeozUXT
— MD State Police (@MDSP) December 31, 2020
“New Year’s Day is consistently one of deadliest days on roadways because of the partying that happens in many cases the night before,” she said.
Because of that, state troopers from all 23 barracks will be out, primarily patrolling major roadways, including “(Interstates) 695, 95, 495, 83, all the major thoroughfares so that if they’re needed, they can be right there in the event of an emergency,” Maryland State Police public information officer Brenda Carl said.
For those concerned about gatherings amid the pandemic, state police have a COVID-19 prevention hotline set up at 1-833-979-2266. People can also email email@example.com.
Troopers will generally provide education and information in those cases.