‘Tis the season for holiday parties and staying out into the wee hours with coworkers, family, and friends. Lights decorate streets, trees, and houses, and seasonal cheer is in the air.
Unfortunately, however, these opportunities for feasting and fun often go hand in hand with increased incidents of impaired driving, or driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one in three drivers who were killed in a car accident in 2010 tested positive for drugs (Kerlikowske, 2012).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state on their site that 1.4 million were arrested in 2010 for drunk driving and driving under the influence of narcotics, and nearly 30 people in the United States die every day in motor vehicle accidents in which the driver is impaired by alcohol.
To raise awareness about the seriousness of this issue, U.S. President Obama declared December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month in a proclamation published in November of 2011. “I urge all Americans to make responsible decisions and to take appropriate measures to prevent impaired driving,” said Obama in the announcement.
As a show of solidarity with the president and the Office of National Drug Policy, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reiterates on their website that December is known for increased road traffic, and therefore an increase in the potential dangers of impaired driving. To help people prepare for this busy time of year, MADD posted some tips for navigating the holidays without falling into dangerous driving situations (2011).
Inspired by these tips, we encourage the following to promote safe driving in December:
- Arrange to carpool, and designate a sober driver before showing up at parties and events. If you plan on attending multiple events with the same people, arrange ahead of time to take turns being the safe and sober driver.
- If you happen to imbibe more alcohol than anticipated, call a taxi, friend, or family member. Admitting that you are unsafe to drive may feel uncomfortable, but it could save your life and the lives of others.
- If you live close enough to a location to walk or ride a bike, do so … but be aware that in some areas, cops also target bicyclists who appear intoxicated—not to mention that biking while drunk is certainly still a safety risk.
- Be on the lookout for drivers who appear to be under the influence of alcohol or other substances on the road. Swerving and going too fast or too slow may be signs that a person is inebriated. Steer clear of such people and consider taking down the license plate number and calling 911.
- Don’t be afraid to take someone’s keys if you feel he or she is not sober enough to drive. Again, this may not feel good in the moment, and you may run into some resistance, but it is well worth the effort.
Drink responsibly and drive safely this month and every month!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013, April 17). Impaired driving: get the facts. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/MotorVehicleSafety/Impaired_Driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html
- Kerlikowske, R. G. (2012, December 1). National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. Office of National Drug Control Policy. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/11/30/national-impaired-driving-prevention-month
- MADD. (2011, December 5). National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. Retrieved from http://www.madd.org/blog/prevention-month.html
- Obama, B. (2011, November 30). Presidential Proclamation: National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, 2011. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/11/30/presidential-proclamation-national-impaired-driving-prevention-month-201
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