December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month

December is a busy month and there are lots of celebrations and parties. Unfortunately, that also means there will be more people driving under the influence of alcohol. Since many holiday parties include alcohol, it’s important to plan ahead so you are not tempted to ‘drink and drive’ – and plan ahead so you do not allow friends and family to drink when impaired.

If you choose to drink, remember that drinking responsibly is critical. It’s a gift you give yourself and your family.

According to the CDC, just a .02% blood alcohol concentration causes some loss of judgment, relaxation, and altered mood. That leads to a decline in visual functions and divided attention – likely to cause an accident. As blood alcohol concentration increases – behavior, coordination, responsiveness, judgment, alertness, inhibitions and other senses rapidly decline.

The result? You’ve become a danger to yourself and others on the highway if you are driving.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving website reports that:

  1. Every 52 minutes on average, someone is killed in a drunk driving crash (10,228 people in total in 2010).
  2. Every 90 seconds, someone is injured because of this entirely preventable crime.

How Little it Takes

Break the Cycle blog helps us better understand what a drink can do to us.

Based on the weight variable alone, a person’s BAC (blood alcohol content) will likely be .08% or higher with the following quantities/time period:

  • 110-129 lbs: 2 drinks in an hour or less
  • 130-149 lbs:  3 drinks in 2 hours or less
  • 170-189 lbs:  4 drinks in 2 hours or less

 [Note: gender, age, medications, weight, stage of brain development all influence how quickly alcohol is metabolized and how alcohol impairs one person’s brain vs another person’s. Therefore, the one drink per hour is a very rough average.]

Click here to learn more about the “standard drink” and what it means from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Increase Awareness in December

December has been designated National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.(Click here to read the proclamation from President Barack Obama.)

Here are some ways to help ensure safety for yourself and others on the road:

  • Designate a sober driver before celebrations begin.
  • Never serve alcohol to those under the age of 21.
  • Plan safe parties, including provision of non-alcoholic drink options to guests and not serving alcohol the last hour of the gathering.
  • Take the keys as guests enter a party and only release them to sober drivers.
  • Be prepared to get everyone home safely in case plans or individual circumstances change.
  • Do not let anyone drive if they seem impaired. Better safe than sorry.
  • Offer to drive others safely home as a designated driver by not consuming alcohol yourself.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) encourages everyone to promote safe driving. Show your support for law enforcement and for MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. Tie a red ribbon on your antenna as a pledge to drive safe, sober and buckled up during the holidays and throughout the year.