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Safety Tips: Driving During the Holidays

It is no coincidence that December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving (3D) Prevention Month. The holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is one of the nation’s busiest and most dangerous times to drive. The holidays are a time for family and friends to get together so there are more cars on the road. Since there are many occasions for celebration, there is a dramatic increase in alcohol and drug-related accidents.

Every year in the U.S., nearly 2000 people are killed in alcohol and drug-related crashes during the holidays and thousands more are injured. Ask any fire-rescue worker and they will tell you that there is a huge spike in traffic accidents during December.

During this holiday season, we all have a responsibility to help keep impaired drivers off the streets. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, planning is the key to driving safely or hosting a safe party during the holidays. Here are some ways to plan for safety if you are going out to celebrate:

  • If you even think that you might have a drink, designate someone else to drive who you can trust to stay sober. Or, if you will be on your own, plan for a taxi ride home, or arrange to stay the night.
  • If traveling in a group, choose the designated driver early, before heading out for the night. Make sure the driver understands his/her responsibility for staying sober and looking out for all members of the group.
  • Even if you are not driving, take it easy with the drinks. Alcohol is toxic and even deadly in large amounts. Make sure to eat plenty of food, and drink non-alcoholic beverages as well.

If you are hosting a holiday party, consider these tips for keeping your guests safe:

  • Upon greeting all guests, find out what their plans are for the evening. Know ahead of time if they will be drinking and how they will be getting home.
  • Don’t let guests mix their own drinks. Assign a “bartender” who can keep track of the size and number of drinks consumed.
  • Serve plenty of food along with drinks.
  • As host, you should be sober and in control of the event. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to someone who has had way too much: “No, you can’t have another drink,” and “No, you can’t have your car keys.”
  • About 90 minutes before the party ends, close the “bar” and serve dessert and coffee. This will give guests some time to sober up.
  • Coffee will not speed up sobriety. Only time can make a person sober.

You don’t have to be drinking or even celebrating to be in danger on the streets during the holidays. Be especially careful driving at night during the season. Partygoers are more likely to be on the road at night and the later it gets, the more likely that drivers might be intoxicated. No matter what, everyone in the car should always wear a seatbelt. It’s your best defense against impaired drivers.