The holidays are an exciting, joyous time of year. Everyone comes together with friends and family to celebrate the season, to reflect on the last year, and to look forward to the possibilities in the year ahead.
However, the holidays are also one of the most alcohol-fueled times of the year. Drunk driving becomes a dangerous reality during the holidays. Between work parties, gatherings with friends, reunions with family, and more, alcohol tends to flow at all of the festivities. People are more likely to drink beyond their limits during this season than most other times during the year.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 210 drunk driving-related fatalities occurred between December 24th to December 26th, and December 28th to January 2nd, the most drunk driving-related incidents of the year. Additionally, 837 people lost their lives in a collision involving a drunk driver in December 2019 alone.
This year, the White House officially announced December 2021 as National Drunk Driving Prevention Month. It’s an opportunity to recognize the thousands of lives lost to alcohol- and drug-impaired driving and raise awareness about how crucial it is to drive sober.
National Drunk Driving Prevention Month also serves as a time to consider how to prepare for driving during the holidays. If you plan to consume alcohol during any of the events you attend, you need to plan how you will get home safely, too. It’s better to prepare ahead of time instead of waiting until the last minute and making a poor decision as a result.
How can you prepare for a safe holiday season during National Drunk Driving Prevention Month?
People often mistake alcohol for a stimulant because it causes sensations of happiness, euphoria, and excitement. It seems easier to talk, laugh, and let loose after having a drink or two. Actually alcohol is a depressant that inhibits your functioning, even after having only one or two drinks.
Alcohol’s effects come on quickly, long before you may ever feel intoxicated. You may not notice the way it interferes with your critical processing skills immediately. However, alcohol impacts your decision-making abilities, reaction time, and attention span.
Driving under the influence is what leads to the more than 10,000 alcohol-related fatalities that happen in the United States every year. Driving while even slightly intoxicated is a decision that affects not only you but the hundreds of other motorists you pass on the roadway.
The more you drink, the poorer your judgment skills and the longer your reaction time becomes. Some people also become aggressive or hostile while drinking. This combination of effects makes driving under the influence a perilous choice.
Some people believe that driving is fine after some time has passed and they feel like they’re “okay” again. You might think waiting an hour or two and drinking a cup of coffee sobers you up enough to drive. In reality, it’s easy to misjudge how long the effects of alcohol impact your decision-making and reaction time.
Alcohol continues to interfere with your mind and body for hours after drinking. It takes time for your body to process the alcohol you drank. Even once it’s through your stomach, the alcohol continues to enter and remain in your bloodstream. Your judgment and coordination skills do not return to normal for at least a few hours after your last drink, and even longer depending on how many drinks you had.
It doesn’t matter whether you plan to have one drink or five; if you’re expecting to consume any alcohol at a gathering, you need to find a safe way home. You can ask a friend or family member to serve as the designated driver, call for a cab, or use a ride-sharing service to get home. Whatever you do, do not get behind the wheel of your car after drinking.
Driving under the influence puts the people around you at risk. You have not only your life in your hands but the lives of those driving near you when you choose to drink and drive. Keep yourself, your loved ones, and your neighbors safe this holiday season by planning ahead and choosing to find a safe ride home whenever you’re drinking.