[MarketPlace] Stephen Dubner: Happy New Year, everybody! Now, how are you getting home from that party? If you’re in New York City, where I live, good luck getting a taxi. And if you’ve had some champagne and you’re even thinking about driving home…well, don’t. All right, so maybe you’ll walk home. Smart move, right?
Steven Levitt: That’s a terrible idea, walking drunk is one of the most dangerous activities you can engage in.
Levitt: Truly, if you’re faced exactly with two choices, walking drunk or driving drunk, you absolutely should drive drunk.
Now wait a minute — Levitt is not advocating that people drive drunk. But what about drunk walking? In 2009, the most recent year for which we have data, about 34,000 people died in traffic accidents. Roughly half of them were drivers — 41 percent of whom were drunk. Now, there were about 4,000 pedestrians killed — and 35 percent of them were drunk.
Levitt: For every mile walked drunk, turns out to be eight times more dangerous than the mile driven drunk. So just to put it simply, if you need to walk a mile from a party to your home, you’re eight times more likely to die doing that than if you jump behind the wheel and drive your car that same mile.
January 1st is the deadliest day of the year for pedestrians — and 58 percent of the people who died were drunk.
Levitt: For 20 years, we’ve been told you should never, ever drive drunk. We should have been told you should never, ever walk drunk and you should never, ever drive drunk. And because nobody thought about it when we were coming up with what was moral and immoral, somehow now, drunk walking just can’t find its way into the immoral box.
So listen, have a great New Year’s celebration, but if a friend has been drinking and starts reaching for the car keys — or decides to set off on foot — don’t let him. Because remember: friends don’t let friends walk drunk.
Talk about responsible journalism. If any of you idiots decides to walk home instead of abiding by the “winners win, drivers drive” mantra, just remember it’s your life you’re pissing away simply as a consequence of a good time. Can you read? EIGHT TIMES more likely to DIE!! I’m not the one to put a value on your existence, but I’d like to think you’re all better than putting yourself at such a high risk when there’s a more cautious approach. Sure, your friends may call you a pussy but you know what? You’ll be the one alive in the drunk tank while your pal’s eyeballs are being pried out of a taxi’s grill. So when the ball has dropped & the New Year is upon you in a mumbling, stumbling haze – be smart. Be safe. Swerve home.