Many Americans have known someone killed in a vehicle crash. Family members, friends, friends of friends—with more than 30,000 people killed each year, it’s likely you and your family may have been touched by these tragic numbers.
More tragically is that one-third of those killed each year are involved in drunk-driving-related crashes. These crashes are 100% preventable. It’s simple: Do not drink and drive. Technology has brought us so far in how we are able to access transportation, and it is easy to designate a sober friend to get us home safe and sound after a night out.
This holiday season, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office and SAFE Coalition are teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind all drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving. With the holiday festivities and extra office parties taking place, it’s essential to plan a sober ride home before ever leaving for the good time. This holiday, as you head out for a night of merrymaking, remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. If you plan to be someone else’s designated driver, stick to that commitment. Your friends are relying on you, and you could save a life.
According to NHTSA, 37,461 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2016, and 28% (10,497) of those fatalities occurred in a crash during which a driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of .08. The holidays prove to be extra dangerous to drivers: From 2012 to 2016, 3,995 of all people who lost their lives in a traffic crash during the month of December died in crashes that involved a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher.
The holidays should be a time for celebrations and making memories, not a time of nightmares for families. Unfortunately, alcohol at many holiday events contributes to the number of impaired drivers on our roadways. Help us spread the message: Even one drink is one drink too many. If you feel buzzed, you are already drunk. Too many people take to the roadways after consuming alcohol because they think they are “okay to drive.” They may think they’ve had enough to eat, enough water to drink, or that their weight may factor into the equation. But these are inaccurate ways of measuring whether you are safe to drive. If you feel buzzed, you are already drunk. We want to keep our roads safe this holiday season and help people understand that the only time they should be behind the wheel is when they are sober. Alcohol affects people differently, and you do not have to be feeling or acting drunk to be too impaired to drive. This holiday season, the Sheriff’s Office, SAFE Coalition, and NHTSA urge you to designate a sober driver before you start drinking. If you plan on drinking at all, plan on not driving.
Remember these tips for a safe night on the roads:
· Plan ahead. You know whether you’ll attend a party. If you plan to drink, plan for a sober driver to take you home. Is it your turn to be the designated driver? Take that role seriously—your friends are relying on you.
· Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve only had one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver to get home safely.
· Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices. SaferRide allows users to call a predetermined friend, and identifies the user’s location so they can be picked up.
· If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office.
· See someone who is about to drive after drinking? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get them home safely. Don’t worry about offending someone—they’ll thank you later.