Article updated Nov. 16, 2018
As you hit the road this holiday season to celebrate with family and friends, remember to drive safely — and sober. Many people think they can get behind the wheel if they’ve had only a few drinks. However, if you are buzzed and even question your ability to drive, you shouldn’t.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Alcohol not only impairs your ability to drive, it impairs your judgement about whether you can or should drive. Too often, people who drink think they are okay to get behind the wheel because they only feel a ‘buzz.’ The truth is, you don’t have to be falling down drunk to be a menace to everyone around you on the highways. Remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.”
Boycott Blackout Wednesday
Blackout Wednesday is coined as the day before Thanksgiving and often highlights (or encourages) heavy consumption of alcohol as a kick start to the holiday weekend. NHTSA is bringing awareness to the dangers of binge drinking during the holiday season with a featured hash tag and twitter conversations - #BoycottBlackoutWednesday.
More than 800 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period (6pm Wednesday to 5:59am Monday) from 2012 to 2016, making it the deadliest holiday on the roads.
The Effects of Alcohol
NHTSA’s holiday campaign is Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. Even having a few drinks affects you. Consuming alcohol reduces the function of your brain, impairing your thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination — all important factors when it comes to driving a vehicle. Look at what happens when your blood alcohol (BAC) is under the legal limit (all 50 states currently have .08 as the legal limit):
- With a BAC of .02, you’ll experience a decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target) and a decline in the ability to perform two tasks at the same time.
- With a BAC of .08, you’ll experience a decline in concentration, short-term memory loss, reduced processing capability, reduced ability to track movements, reduced coordination, impaired perception and speed control.
- Read more drunk driving statistics.
The facts demonstrate that even within legal limits, people’s driving abilities are impaired. In 2016, 2,017 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes where drivers had a BAC of .01 to .07. And the higher a person’s BAC, the more dangerous it becomes for him or her to get behind the wheel. Look at these statistics:
- In 2017, 37,133 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and 29 percent of those fatalities (10,874) occurred during which a driver had a BAC over.08.
- From 2013 to 2017, 4,110 people were killed in December crashes that involved drivers with a BAC over the legal limit of .08.
- In December 2017, 885 people lost their lives in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver.
- Every day, almost 29 people die in an alcohol-related crash — that’s one person every 50 seconds.
Find a Ride
If you’ve been drinking at your holiday celebrations, you need to hand over your keys and find a way home. Here are a few options if you’re too impaired to drive:
- Before you go to the party, plan ahead. Decide if you or your spouse will be the designated driver or make other arrangements that will allow you to have some drinks without having to drive home.
- Uber, Lyft and other rideshare programs are safe ways to travel to and from the gathering without having to drive.
- Park your car and ask for a ride. Plans can change, and if you end up drinking, ask a family member for a ride home. They would rather give you a ride than risk you possibly hurting yourself or others on the road.
The old adage “it’s better safe than to be sorry” rings true if you’ve been drinking. If you even question your driving ability, don’t do it. For more information about alcohol-related traffic crashes, deaths and more, visit trafficsafetymarketing.gov. Also, watch the NHSTA’s Twitter feed later this month for their featured chat — Buzzed Driving.
For help navigating your ignition interlock requirements after a drunk driving conviction, call Intoxalock at (888) 283-5899. One of our state experts can answer your questions, help you find an installation location and more.