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Officials have advice for ringing in the new year safely

Ryan Delaney

Gordon Kotars of the Firefighters Association of the State of New York said while firework use is less for New Year's than it is for the Fourth of July, there are always hazards associated with it.

"Between injuries and fireworks that don't go where they're supposed to and you end up with some type of a bottle rocket or whatever on somebody's roof," Kotars said. "You always have the increased odds of having a fire caused by fireworks."

Not all fireworks are legal in New York. Ground-based fireworks like party poppers and snappers are legal but things like roman candles and firecrackers are prohibited.

"We like to say leave it to the professionals," Kotars said. "Every year you read about somebody losing an eye, losing some fingers, fires starting. That's probably our biggest concern."

But Kotars says fireworks aren't the only concern as people ring in the new year.

"The other concern for New Year's Eve, obviously, because of celebrations, is to please don't drink and drive," Kotars said.

Valerie Puma, of the Western and Central New York AAA, said while drunk driving is a problem every day, it's more prevalent during the holiday season. During the 2020 Christmas and New Year's stretch, there were 209 fatalities related to drunk driving.

"AAA urges drivers to not drink and drive," Puma said. "AAA Western Central New York does not participate in the Safe Ride / Tipsy Tow program that is offered in other parts of the country. So we are reminding partygoers to plan ahead with a designated driver, ride-sharing or overnight accommodations."

Puma also warns of driving under the influence of marijuana as the number of people who got behind the wheel within an hour of use rose 14% from 2020 to 2021. The number of people who admitted to driving when they felt over the legal limit also increased, by nearly 24%.

"This is a reversal in the steady declines in these dangerous driving behaviors in the three years from 2018 through 2020," Puma said. "AAA Western Central New York encourages motorists to be extra vigilant this holiday season and to celebrate the New Year's responsibly."

Travelers can use the AAA mobile app to find hotel accommodations should they need them this New Year's.

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.