Motorists Beware – Drunk Driving Season is Upon Us
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 728 people will be injured or killed each day in drunk driving accidents between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. That’s nearly 3 times more than during the rest of the year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also says in the period of 6 p.m. on Oct. 31 to 6:00 a.m. Nov. 1 that 43-percent of all people killed in car crashes on Halloween night were drunk.
We urge all drivers to be wary of drunk drivers this time of year.
Aside from the obvious holidays like Christmas and New Years, there are scores of office parties, holiday parties, “Friendsgivings” and less formal celebrations throughout the entire season. And don’t forget Veterans day on November 11th. While the holiday happens to fall on a weekend this year, many offices will be closed on Monday the 12th. Veterans Day is typically observed with parades and ceremonies, but you can expect that with a three day weekend, there will also be a fair amount of drinking.
Responsible Drinking During the Holidays
Anti-drunk driving campaigns have long advised sobriety for at least one person in a group, aka the “designated driver”, and calling a taxi. These are good ideas, but safety really starts back at the party.
“In my mind ‘it takes two to tango,’” said Syndi Seid of the blog Advanced Etiquette, an online blog. “As the host, you should do all you can to prevent guests from over-indulging. As a guest, it is your responsibility not to get drunk.”
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, also says that a large responsibility is with the host.
“As a social host, you don’t have the same legal responsibilities as someone who runs a bar or tavern. But that’s not the whole story,” they said. “If you allow an alcohol-related event to be held on your property, if you host an alcohol-related event on or off your property, or if you provide the alcohol to others, you may have more legal responsibilities than you thought.
Most people know that it’s not wise to serve alcohol to someone who is obviously drunk. But many aren’t aware that they may be sued and held liable (legally responsible) when they provide alcohol to guests who are intoxicated and who injure themselves or others—either at the event or on the way home. (Providing alcohol involves serving, giving or making alcohol available.)”
This can even include if a guest gets drunk at a party, and then drives intoxicated. The host may be held liable for injuries resulting from the crash.
Hosting a Safe Party
If you are the host, drink moderately or not at all. “The more you drink, the more difficult it will be for you to identify and resolve potential problems. You will have greater control when you have not been drinking and can think clearly and act quickly if needed,” says CAMH.
Plan the quantity of alcohol at the party. Use an online drink calculator to be sure you have enough alcohol for the party, but discourage BYOB because it usually means you can’t control how much guests drink. Check out this one by Evite.
Provide food throughout the event. “Serve high protein foods. Foods with protein and starch (e.g., cheese, meat, seafood, raw vegetables with dip) delay the absorption of alcohol. Limit salty foods because they make people thirsty. Keep snack trays well-stocked throughout the party,” says My Health.
Limit the time alcohol is served. Have a time when the bar is open and when the bar is closed. Advanced Etiquette’s blog recommends closing the bar during meal service, business presentations, or having a “last call” for the night.
Be a host. “Plan activities so that drinking is not the main focus of the party,” said My Health. CAMH also suggested that serving alcohol as a host instead of having an open bar may limit people that “may drink more if they are given unlimited access to free alcohol.”
Invite guests to stay overnight. Keep intoxicated drivers off the road by offering them a place to safely spend the night.
Be Safe as a Guest
The Alliance for Safe Kids (ASK) reminds all drivers that “buzzed driving is drunk driving”.
“If you want to stay safe this Halloween then make a plan to get home without driving if you’ve been drinking,” said Erica Stanzione, Director of Communications and Partnerships for ASK. “Even one drink impairs judgment, so plan to get home by taxi, rideshare, mass transit, or designate a sober driver. Buzzed driving is drunk driving, so think ahead to stay safe.”
This is true for any holiday party.
One alternative to driving home is to have a taxi, friend or ride-sharing service ready.
Uber, a popular ride-sharing service, says that “88% of people 21+ agree that Uber has made it easier to avoid driving after drinking” and “78% of people say that since Uber launched in their city their friends are less likely to drive after drinking.” They cited an independent study by the Benenson Group on their website.
Tips for Avoiding Drunk Drivers
If you see anyone driving erratically or in a way that makes you believe they might be impaired, pull over and call the 911 immediately.
State Farm Insurance lists a few ways you can detect drunk drivers.
- Drivers making wide turns
- Drivers weaving, swerving or near the center line
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Driving at a very slow speed
- Responding slowly to traffic signals
- Driving after dark with headlights off