Each December, we go out for fun, parties and drinks with family and friends. But we ask you to stop and think for a second about being responsible. December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month and since the holiday season has a higher accident rate than others on average, it is important to echo the message of consciousness of being in a proper state behind the wheel. 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.
History of National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month
Since 1981, high officials all across America have worked their hardest promoting the importance of staying sober while driving during the month of December, proclaimed National Drunk & Drugged Driving Prevention Month or National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, and it all stemmed from one woman and her resolve.
On May 3, 1980, thirteen-year-old Cari Lightner was struck and killed by Clarence Busch in a drunk driving accident. When police arrested Clarence, they found this was not his first occurence, even down to a hit-and-run drunk driving fine less than a week before his accident with Cari. At the time, driving while intoxicated was a misdemeanor that was barely prosecuted, meaning that Busch was very unlikely to have gone to jail.
This unacceptable fact motivated Cari’s mother, Candy Lightner, to take action. The result was the non-profit organization known as MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Candy’s movement quickly grew across the nation. She pushed to a more strict definition of what drunk driving was, having legislators pass stricter laws and prosecutions that included jail time and license suspensions, up to having President Reagan establish 21 as the minimum drinking age and appointing Lightner as part of a commission developed to tackle the issue.
To this day, Candy continues to advocate for anti-drunk, drugged and distracted driving legislation as president of We Save Lives. “I am not against drinking. I am for responsible drinking. We don’t let people walk around with a loaded gun in our neighborhood. But we let them drive when they drink.”
National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month timeline
- July 3, 2014
Rep. Nita Lowey sponsored national legislation requiring car ignition interlocks.
- July 2004
Setting the Limit
All 50 states adopted .08 as the legal blood alcohol limit.
The Supreme Court ruled that police sobriety checks on public roads are constitutional.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) founder Candy Lightner challenged legislators to take drunk driving seriously.
National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month FAQs
When is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month?
National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month occurs annually in the month of December, as it is the height of the holiday season.
What is blood alcohol content?
Blood Alcohol Content, or BAC, is the scale used to describe the level of alcohol in the bloodstream of a person. It can be used to determine the sobriety status of a person, as well as being of use in court as evidence for DUI charges
What other kinds of testing is used to determine BAC?
Besides blood and urine tests, the other most used method are Field Sobriety Tests, which are cognitive and balance tasks law enforcement uses to determine a person’s well-being. Walking in a straight line or saying the alphabet backwards are an example of field sobriety tests.
How to Observe National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month
Do a sober period
During December, try to challenge yourself and set a period of time without drinking alcohol. Be it one week, two weeks, make it as long as you would like. You may even see some benefits on laying off the drinks for a while, save money, lose weight, and much more.
Take a cab or use a ride-sharing app after a party or visiting a bar
No one says you can't party and let loose for a while. 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.
Be a Designated Driver
You'll make a great impression for being the one friend others can trust to drive back home. It is an overall small sacrifice for a night that won’t affect your chances to have a great time, so offer yourself up and give your friends a helping hand!
5 Facts About Drunk Driving
27 people daily
Is the amount of people who die in a drunk driving accident in the US
South Africa has the highest rate
Around six out of every ten fatalities on South Africa's roads are drunk-driving related accidents.
The first ever arrest was in 1897
George Smith was the first person ever convicted of drunk driving after he slammed his cab into a building.
The two deadliest holidays
On Average, New Year’s Eve is the day with most DUI arrests, but Fourth of July has the most drunk driving related deaths.
There is no “sobering” element
Neither coffee or showers will make a person sober up, only time does.
Why National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month is Important
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.
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.
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.
National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month dates