December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month - Commit to driving sober this month and in 2020.
December is a time for family, giving and celebration. And to get in that festive holiday spirit, many people pop the champagne or enjoy cocktails. Because of this, December is also one of the most deadly times of the year to be on the road. The month is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, which reminds everyone to drive safely this holiday season and understand how drunk and drugged driving plagues our nation’s roads.
Know About Holiday Drinking Trends
Office parties, holiday celebrations, family in town, New Year’s Eve, you name it — there are many situations that people are consuming alcoholic beverages in December. Let’s look at a few statistics related to the road crashes and deaths that can occur this time of year.
- In December 2018, 839 people died in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver.
- In 2018, the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day had more drunk-driving-related fatalities than any other holiday period that year — 285.
- Americans drink double the amount of alcohol over the holidays than any other time of year.
- In 2016, 36 percent of fatalities during the New Year’s Day holiday period (which begins in December) involved a drunk driver.
Many people believe that both legal and illegal drugs do not affect their driving abilities. However, in 2016, 44 percent of drivers killed in automobile crashes tested for positive illegal, prescription and over-the-counter drugs: 38 percent tested positive for marijuana, 16 percent tested positive for opioids and 4 percent tested positive for both. In addition, 49 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for alcohol also tested positive for drugs.
Do Your Part to Keep Roads Safe
Any celebration is more fun if you plan ahead and know how you will get home. Are you going to drink alcohol? Do you take prescription medication that counteracts with alcohol? It’s never okay to drink and drive, so make sure you have a way home before you leave.
- Choose a designated driver.
- Use Uber, Lyft or another rideshare service, public transportation or a cab service.
- Stay with a friend or family member, or book a hotel room.
If you don’t make a plan, you’re more likely to drive when your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the legal limit. Many times people believe they are sober enough to drive when, in fact, they are legally drunk, or they believe common myths, such as eating or drinking coffee, to lower your BAC. Read more about how much alcohol you can drink before your BAC is over the state’s legal limit.
Is a friend too impaired to drive? Help find them a ride home or a place to sleep so they don’t get behind the wheel when they’ve had too much to drive. Or better yet, include your friends and family in your plan to get home safely. Remember impaired driving is 100 percent preventable, so do your part to keep our roads safe.
Spotting an impaired driver
You likely know common signs of an impaired driver, including:
- Drifting between traffic lanes
- Quick acceleration or deceleration
- Stopping without cause
- Failure to turn on headlights
- Erratic braking or driving significantly over the speed limit
If you suspect a driver is drunk, the best thing for you to do is call 911. You can provide the operator details about the car — license plate number, make, model and color — where it’s located and the direction it’s traveling. Do not attempt to help the other driver or get their attention. Let law enforcement do their jobs.
This December, celebrate the holidays safely. Even if you think you’re okay to drive, don’t. You could unintentionally hurt yourself or someone you love by driving when you’re intoxicated, so commit to driving sober and keeping our roads safe this month and in 2020.