PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As New Year’s Eve approaches, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is encouraging those drinking to plan for safe and sober transportation.

MADD joined state and local law enforcement and traffic safety advocates Wednesday morning to remind drivers that driving impaired is preventable.

“Whether hosting friends and family or going out to celebrate, designating a driver who will not be drinking or using marijuana or using a ride-hailing service is critical for everyone’s safety,” said Wesley Pennington, a retired Rhode Island State Trooper who will join MADD as Rhode Island’s Program Director.

About 9,500 people died on America’s roadways in the first quarter of 2022, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is the largest number of projected roadway fatalities in 20 years.

“Impaired driving tragedies are 100% preventable,” Pennington added. “And these are not accidents, they are crimes.”

Last year, 17-year-old Olivia Passaretti was struck and killed while driving home on New Year’s Day. Aramis Segura admitted in court to drinking three beers and smoking marijuana before getting behind the wheel.

This year, now that recreational marijuana is legal in Rhode Island, police and advocates are ramping up their message.

Police also reminded drivers that there will be extra patrols out over the holiday weekend.