By The Weekender

Traffic safety officials from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC), and longtime marijuana activist and Hempfest promoter Vivian McPeak urge holiday revelers to “plan before you party.”

This surprising alliance is working together to reduce the growing number of fatalities from drivers impaired by both alcohol and cannabis, or other drugs.

Washington state law enforcement officers will be out in force New Year’s Eve in an effort to curb drunk driving deaths.

“Driving drunk or high is dangerous,” said McPeak. “It will increase your chances of being in a crash. If you plan to party, party with a plan that you make ahead of time. Plan on using Lyft or another form of transportation, or stay put until you’re sober.”

The Weekender could not find a Lyft driver in Lewis County, but there is one Uber driver in Centralia. The Weekender suggests going with the tried and true designated driver. It’s better than a ticket, a suspended license and about $10,000 in lawyer fees.

Shelly Baldwin, WTSC spokesperson, said, “Alcohol and drug impaired driving is the leading contributing factor in Washington fatal crashes. But we don’t have to accept that. Make decisions about how you will get home safely before you party. And if you see someone about to drive impaired, help them find a safe ride. We all have a role in keeping our roads safe.”

McPeak and WTSC are also taking to the airwaves with the Plan Before you Party message. They released a joint public service announcement in December targeting people who consume alcohol and cannabis or other drugs.

WTSC research shows that since 2012, the number of poly-drug drivers (under the influence of a combinations of alcohol and drugs) involved in fatal crashes has increased an average of 15 percent per year.  Alcohol and cannabis are the most common poly-drug combination. Despite the increase, most Washingtonians believe it is unacceptable to drive within two hours of using either substance and most people never do.