• Observe National Impaired Driving Prevention Month Every December

     

    December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

    December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month
    Background image credit: stevepb @ Pixabay; Public Domain

     

    Every year the President of the United States issues a proclamation naming December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

    December is a natural month for this, because of the holidays. More people travel to see family for the holidays. Not all by car, of course, but many do drive.

    And then there are the holiday parties, held by companies, clubs, other organizations and family. Many people find themselves going to multiple parties in one evening. And somebody has to drive.

    This combination leads to an increase in driving under the influence of alcohol.

    Many calendars also name December as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month (also known as National 3D Prevention Month).

    Although we can’t confirm it, these appear to be the same observation.

    We believe this because through 2008 the President issued proclamations for National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. Starting in 2009 the proclamations changed to National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

    We also have not been able to confirm who first came up with the idea for this month.

    Regardless of the name or how it started, it’s an important idea to remember. And the annual presidential proclamation makes this an official observation.

     

    Why This Month is Important

     
    Have you ever thought something like “I’m not that drunk. It’ll be fine.”?

    Many of us have. And often it is just fine. Unfortunately, that just reinforces our belief that we can tell when we’re too impaired to drive. But we really can’t.

    Alcohol and drugs don’t just impair the ability to drive. They also impair clear thinking.

    It’s also important to realize impaired driving just doesn’t mean driving after drinking too much. Or using illegal drugs.

    You can be impaired by legal drugs prescribed for you by your doctor. You may have seen the warnings on some medications. It says not to drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how the drug affects you.

    Take that seriously.

    Take these statistics seriously, too

     

    • In 2015, alcohol played a roll in almost 1/3 of all traffic deaths.
    • In 2014, 19% of traffic deaths of children aged 14 and younger involved a driver impaired by alcohol. Usually the driver of the car they were in.
    • Accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers killed 9,967 people in 2014. Of those, 6,391 were impaired drivers. 1,511 were passengers in their cars. 1,241 were passengers in other cars. And 824 were on the street (pedestrians, bicyclists, etc).
    • Alcohol-related driving deaths increased to 10,265 for 2015.
    • A 2013 survey found 9.9 million people admitted to driving after taking illegal drugs.

     

    That’s a lot of people dying because of drivers’ mistaken belief they were ok to drive. And even more lives forever affected by those deaths.

    Scroll down for some ideas on celebrating this sobering holiday.
     

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    Observing National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

     
    The first thing to do is ensure you never drive under the influence of either alcohol or drugs (legal or illegal!).

    If you already live by this rule, good for you.

    If you sometimes drive when you maybe shouldn’t, this is a good time to pledge to never do it again.

    How to avoid driving after you’ve had too much to drink? With the now-standard advice:

    Designate a sober driver before heading out for the evening.

    Your designated driver has no alcohol while out. No drugs either, of course. It should also be someone who isn’t on any medications that may make driving unsafe.

    Other tips for a safe December (and the rest of the year):

    • Drink only one alcoholic drink per hour. On average, it takes your body one hour to clear one drink from your body.
    • If you don’t have a designated driver, take a cab home. Do the same if your designated driver decided to drink after all.
    • As a host, include non-alcoholic drinks for guests to enjoy. This can include pop, water, juices, as well as mocktails.

     

    And, whether you’re a host or party-goer, keep an eye on your friends. If anyone’s impaired, call a cab and take their keys away.

    How do you keep everyone safe after a night out?
     

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