December Is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month
Here’s what you can do to help keep drunk drivers off the road
While you’re reading this article, it’s possible that someone in the United States will be killed in an alcohol-related car crash. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 people die each day in auto accidents caused by drunk drivers. That’s one life lost every 51 minutes.
Stats like these are sobering — and that’s a good thing, because becoming more aware of the risks is the first step to lowering them.
Simply raising the legal drinking age to 21 drove down the number of car crashes by 30 percent. And the CDC reports that sobriety checkpoints can reduce alcohol-related accidents by 20 percent.
A survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that three out of four Americans are in favor of stricter and more severe penalties against impaired drivers. But there’s much more we can do to keep drunk drivers off the road. Keep these strategies in mind while you celebrate the holiday season — and throughout the year.
Designate a non-drinking driver. Nine out of 10 Americans believe in this practice, so you shouldn’t have a hard time getting a fellow partygoer to volunteer to stay sober. Do this before the festivities begin.
Take a taxi. If you’ve been drinking and there’s no one who can safely drive you home, call a cab or a SafeRides program.
Be a responsible host. Offer non-alcoholic drink options and shut down the bar an hour before you plan to end the evening. Never serve alcohol to someone under age 21. Not only would you be creating an immediate risk, you could help to put a young person in future danger: Research shows that kids who begin drinking at 16 or 17 are four to five times more likely to wind up in an alcohol-related accident as an adult.
Take away the keys. If someone who’s too drunk to drive insists on heading to his car, do all you can to stop him. Suggest calmly and gently that it would be better if someone else drove. Offer to call a cab. Don’t be confrontational or make a scene. If all else fails, try to divert the person’s attention so you can find — and confiscate — his keys.
Make sure your kids know the rules. No drinking and driving, ever. And no getting in a car with someone who’s been drinking. Offering to pick up your kids — no questions asked — may encourage them to call when they need help, according to Kidshealth.org. Also teach your kids to keep enough money in their wallet for a cab or the bus.