Drinking and Driving Rises During the Holidays
With the advent of the holiday season, opportunities to get together with friends and family abound. After-work socials, company parties and friendly gatherings seem to fill the calendar. Unfortunately, highway traffic statistics tell us that during the season of good cheer, the number of people who consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel of their car also goes up.
Highway safety data show that the number of arrests for drunk driving and the number of alcohol-related accidents soars alarmingly during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
Troubling Drunk Driving Statistics
By some estimates, Americans can expect to witness 1,200 alcohol-related traffic deaths during the holiday season. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports that 52 percent of fatal car accidents on Christmas Day and 57 percent of traffic fatalities on New Year’s Eve/Day will be directly attributable to alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 25,000 traffic injuries will result from alcohol consumption during this time of year. Most tragic of all, these statistics are entirely avoidable.
Facts to Remember About Alcohol
There are a few things that people should always keep in mind when alcohol is part of the celebration. No matter what type of alcohol is being consumed, it delivers the same effects. A person who consumes 6 ounces of wine receives the same amount of alcohol as a person who drinks 12 ounces of beer and will experience the same effects as the person who drinks 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, such as whiskey.
Once a person drinks alcohol, it will require time before the body is able to metabolize it and no amount of coffee drinking will speed the metabolic process. People drinking punch at the office party need to ask what is in the beverage, because if it is a mystery you may be consuming far more alcohol than you realize.
Avoid Tragedy with Planning
It isn’t necessary to forego holiday celebrations altogether in order to be safe, but as the National Safety Commission slogan so aptly states: “Safety is No Accident”. Safety requires thinking ahead and devising a responsible plan. If plans include a party where alcohol is being served there are a few responsible steps to be taken.
- Choose someone in your group to be the designated driver. This person should not consume any alcohol.
- Bring money for a cab. Spending the few extra dollars to have a cab take you home is worth the cost of protecting yourself and others from harm.
- Follow the one drink-one hour-with food rule. Keeping in mind the body’s need to metabolize alcohol and the fact that food will slow alcohol’s entry into the bloodstream, a responsible person will limit themselves to one drink per hour while eating food. Even then it is important to have a non-drinker who is willing to drive after the party.
- The host/hostess may want to refrain from partaking themselves in order to be available to drive others home. Remember that the host can be held responsible for any accidents which may occur if a person left their home in any way impaired by alcohol.
Don’t let the temptation to drink and drive spoil the holiday. Even a small buzz is considered impairment. Furthermore, if you are involved in a collision which was not your fault but the police officer suspects that you have been drinking, he will work on the presumption that you were contributory to the accident.
You could be charged with a DUI and if that happens, the insurance company will not contribute a single dime toward repairs. There is simply no positive spin to be put on drinking and driving any time, but least of all during this season of love and good will toward others.