Almost everybody loves holiday parties. But drinking and driving can make that festive time deadly for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. December’s National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month has a high fatality rate due to people driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. According to the National Safety Council, over 40,000 people died in alcohol-related traffic accidents last year, so this year, stay safe during the holidays.
National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month - History
Congresswoman introduced automobile safety bill
Rep. Nita Lowey sponsored national legislation requiring car ignition interlocks.
Legal intoxication limit standardized in the U.S.
All 50 states adopted .08 as the legal blood alcohol limit.
High court ruling on sobriety checks
The Supreme Court ruled that police sobriety checks on public roads are constitutional.
National Minimum Drinking Age Act passed by Congress
This withholds highway funds from states where the legal drinking age is under 21.
MADD focused legislators on drunk driving as a national problem
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) founder Candy Lightner challenged legislators to take drunk driving seriously.
How to Observe National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month
1. Take the AAA pledge
During December, you can do your part to reduce deadly traffic accidents by pledging to remain sober during the season. AAA has a pledge stating you will do your part to help save lives on the roadways by driving only while drug- and alcohol-free.
2. Take a cab or use a ride-sharing app after a party or visiting a bar
No one says you can't party during the holidays. But if you've had too much, get home safely. Call a cab, or better yet, use your ride-sharing app and let the professionals do the driving. That way, you'll be around for the festivities next year.
3. Rent a limo
You'll make a great impression stepping out of your luxurious stretch limousine, but more importantly, you can enjoy yourself with champagne in the back seat while your professional driver handles the rest.
3 Drunk/Drugged Driving Tips To Remember In December
1. Drugged driving is just as bad
Drug-impaired driving is illegal in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. — whether or not the drug is legally prescribed.
2. Ride-sharing apps help
Ride-sharing apps are decreasing DUI arrests according to an academic study because partygoers are leaving the driving to others.
3. Driving under the influence has terrible odds
One out of three traffic deaths results from drunk- or drug-impaired drivers.
Why National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month is Important
A. Traffic-related deaths spike between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day
With all the drinking during the holiday season, it's not a stretch to see why so many people are dying on the roads. Consider this dreadful statistic: Over 45 people are killed each day by an alcohol-impaired driver and those numbers climb at the end of the year. Additionally, in 68 percent of traffic fatalities involving a drunk driver, there was a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or higher with the legal limit being 0.8.
B. Drugs also contribute to traffic deaths
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has expanded its mission statement to include drug-impaired driving. Mixing alcohol with opioids may increase a driver's sedation, which can lead to serious consequences on the road. In 2017, researchers at Columbia University reported a seven-fold jump (since 1995) in the number of drivers killed while operating a vehicle under the influence of prescription drugs.
C. Pedestrian deaths increase
It's especially true on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays when holiday parties are in full swing and the bars are packed. So the fatality risk goes both ways. It's more likely that an alcohol- or drug-impaired driver will accidentally kill either themselves, their passengers, or a pedestrian — or that an inebriated pedestrian will walk into the path of an innocent driver.