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Ensuring a Sober and Safe Holiday Season:

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month Guide

Ensuring a Sober and Safe Holiday Season: National Impaired Driving Prevention Month Guide

December 7, 2023

As the holiday season approaches and our roads become busier, it’s crucial to be aware that this time of year sees a concerning rise in impaired driving incidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) highlights the increased risk during December due to more holiday parties and festivities. With the prevalence of marijuana use and drugged driving, it’s essential to remain vigilant against all forms of impaired driving. This December, in collaboration with law enforcement agencies nationwide, the NHTSA is intensifying efforts to eradicate impaired driving, demonstrating zero tolerance to save lives.


Alarming Statistics:

Every day, approximately 37 people lose their lives in the United States due to drunk-driving crashes — a devastating toll of one person every 39 minutes. The year 2021 witnessed a 14% increase in alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths, claiming the lives of 13,384 individuals. Many of these tragedies could have been prevented with proactive measures to keep impaired drivers off the road. Recognizing the severity of this issue, December is designated as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, also known as National Drunk and Drugged Driving (3D) Prevention Month. This period aims to raise awareness about impaired driving and promote actions to address this pressing concern.


How Alcohol Affects Driving Ability:

Understanding the impact of alcohol on driving is crucial. Even small amounts can impair coordination, judgment, and reaction times.


The Effects of Blood Alcohol Concentration:

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) plays a central role in determining an individual’s level of impairment. This segment delves into the correlation between BAC levels and the degree of impairment, offering insights into the legal limits and associated risks.

.02 (g/dL) BAC
  • At this level, individuals may experience some loss of judgment, a sense of relaxation, slight body warmth, and altered mood.
  • Expect a decline in visual functions, such as rapid tracking of a moving target, and reduced ability to perform two tasks simultaneously (divided attention).


.05 (g/dL) BAC

  • Characterized by exaggerated behavior, potential loss of small-muscle control, impaired judgment, a generally good feeling, lowered alertness, and the release of inhibition.
  • Anticipate reduced coordination, difficulty in steering, and a lower response to emergency driving situations.


.08 (g/dL) BAC

  • As BAC reaches this level, muscle coordination becomes poor, affecting balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing. Detecting danger becomes harder, and judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are impaired.
  • Experience challenges in concentration, short-term memory loss, compromised speed control, and reduced information processing capability, impacting signal detection and visual search.


.10 (g/dL) BAC

  • A clear deterioration of reaction time and control is evident, accompanied by slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinking.
  • Encounter reduced ability to maintain lane position and appropriately apply brakes.


.15 (g/dL) BAC

  • At this BAC level, individuals may experience far less muscle control than normal, and vomiting may occur. Major loss of balance is anticipated.
  • Witness substantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to the driving task, and the processing of necessary visual and auditory information.


Understanding these effects empowers individuals to make responsible choices, fostering safer roads for everyone.


Consequences:

Impaired driving doesn’t just pose risks to the driver; it endangers everyone on the road. Legal ramifications are severe, with penalties ranging from fines and license suspension to imprisonment. Additionally, impaired driving contributes to a broader societal impact, affecting families and communities. Understanding these consequences is crucial for fostering responsible behavior.

Responsible Behavior: Things We Can Do to Reduce Impaired Driving:

Promoting responsible behavior is key to preventing impaired driving. This section provides practical tips for individuals to play a role in reducing impaired driving incidents. From arranging designated drivers to utilizing rideshare services, there are proactive steps everyone can take to contribute to a safer road environment.


  1. Plan Ahead for a Safe Ride Home: Before the celebration begins, designate a non-drinking friend as your driver or arrange alternative transportation.
  2. Intervene if Someone is Impaired: If you notice someone who has been drinking, prevent them from getting behind the wheel. Take their keys and help them secure a sober ride home.
  3. Avoid Driving if You’ve Been Drinking: Never drive under the influence of alcohol. Instead, call a taxi, use a ride-hailing service, or reach out to a sober friend for a safe ride.
  4. Ensure Guests Have Sober Drivers: If you’re hosting an event where alcohol is served, make it a priority to ensure that all your guests have arranged for a sober driver to take them home.
  5. Always Wear Your Seat Belt: Regardless of the circumstances, wearing your seat belt is your best defense against impaired drivers. It enhances your safety in case of an unexpected encounter with someone driving under the influence.

Conclusion:

As we navigate the holiday season and increased road activity, let’s prioritize safety and responsibility. National Impaired Driving Prevention Month serves as a reminder that each of us plays a crucial role in promoting sober and safe driving practices. By understanding the effects of alcohol, recognizing the importance of BAC levels, and embracing responsible behavior, we can contribute to a safer road environment for everyone.

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