More Utahns die as a result of drunken drivers than from violent crime.

Every 22 minutes, someone in the United States dies in a traffic accident caused by drinking.We recite these facts and figures because they are especially timely right now - and in the hope that they will be literally sobering.

New Year's Eve always seems to mean more drinking than usual. It also means many Utahns will be driving farther and longer than usual to visit distant friends and relatives.

Consequently, more defensive driving is in order, including the following practices and precautions:

- Be alert for drivers who have had too much to drink. The tell-tale signs of such drivers are inconsistent speeds, frequent lane changes, disregard for traffic signs, and driving outside of lane markers.

- If you are going to be out drinking, appoint a designated driver who will stay sober and make sure you get home safely. If you see someone who might have overindulged, do him or her a favor by taking the car keys away.

- Allow plenty of following distance and reduce speed if road and weather conditions are poor. It's better to arrive late than not at all.

- Be aware of changing road and weather conditions and drive accordingly. For highway conditions, call 964-6000.

Start the New Year right by resolving now to drive defensively not only during the coming weekend but for all of 1995.