The period around the New Year's holiday is a high time for drunk drivers, according to Allstate Insurance Co., which released tips this week on how to identify and deal with drunk drivers encountered on the roadways.

Kari Mather, an Allstate southwest region spokeswoman, said government statistics indicate that during the New Year's holiday period, there are up to 54 fatalities recorded each day nationwide involving impaired drivers, compared to an average of 36 fatalities per day in similar accidents during the rest of the year.

"Drunk drivers, unfortunately, share the road with you and your family," said Denis Bailey, field vice president of Allstate's southwest region. "Even if you never drink and drive, you can help save lives by being a responsible party host, preventing friends and acquaintances from driving drunk, and reporting suspicious drivers."

Behaviors that could indicate a drunk driver include:

- Straddling lanes or driving on the center line.

- Drifting or moving in a straight line at a slight angle to the roadway.

- Driving with headlights off at night.

- Erratic braking or stopping without cause.

- Driving below the speed limit.

- Slow responses to traffic signals.

- Nearly striking objects or curbs.

- Weaving or zigzagging across the road.

- Driving on the wrong side of the road or completely off the roadway.

- Tailgating.

Sgt. Trent Crump, a Phoenix Police Department spokesman, said officers will be bolstering traffic patrols over the holiday season to deter and apprehend drunk drivers.

"We increase our efforts because of all the holiday parties. Our DUI enforcement programs are stepped up," Crump said.

Mather said that if you see a drunk driver on the road, you should maintain a safe following distance and don't attempt to pass. Report a suspected drunk driver immediately to area law enforcement from your phone, giving police as much information as possible, such as the license plate number, make, model and color of vehicle; the direction the vehicle is traveling; and a physical description of driver. Do not try and stop the vehicle.

Allstate recommends that those who drink during the holidays should have a designated driver or use public transportation or a taxi.

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