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Keeping the Roads Safe During the Holidays

Wednesday, December 27, 2017 8:44 AM

This time of year, schedules fill up quickly with special events and gatherings of friends and family that often involve the consumption of alcohol.  Many people drink more often and consume more in these weeks than at any other time during the year and most are not used to assessing their own ability to drive, particularly on winter’s more dangerous roadways.  This all adds up to conditions in which drunk or impaired driving is not only possible and more likely, which is why December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

A recent study by the U.S. Department of Transportation showed that DUI arrests peak between Thanksgiving and the end of December, and that the average daily death rate caused by drunk/drugged drivers increases from 36 to between 45 and 54 on Christmas and New Years Eve respectively.  In addition, the Center for Disease Control estimates that 25,000 people will experience injuries during the same period as a result of accidents in which the driver is impaired. These numbers reflect a decline over previous decades, but each incident represents a family devastated, a son, daughter, husband, wife or friend not returning home. 

Ina Sherman, Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor at NorthShore’s Doreen E. Chapman Center, shares her suggestions for helping to ensure that you and your friends and family celebrate responsibly and that everyone out on the roads reaches their holiday destinations safe and sound:

  • Designate a driver. The most important thing you can do is ensure there is a designated driver. Designated drivers have saved thousands of lives over the years. Make a plan before you leave for a party that includes a designated driver.  And remember, a designed driver always has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.00. That means no drinking at all.
  • Have non-alcoholic options available. The drink you have in your hand doesn’t need to be alcoholic and maybe it wouldn’t be if there were other options available. Make sure to have non-alcoholic beverages available for those who don’t want to drink or would like to switch to something non-alcoholic later in the evening. Consider including one or two mock-tail recipes on your drink menu. 
  • Use extra caution on the roads. You have designated a driver, but there might be others on the road who haven’t. Make sure to be extra vigilant out on the roads during the holidays. Keep your eyes on the road and if you see anyone driving erratically, be sure to report them and their location to the authorities!

Do you make sure to designate a driver at each holiday celebration?