As the holiday season is here, there is a tendency to have more parties than usual to attend. When alcohol is served, it is easy to drink more than you planned because of the good company, conversation and relaxation…but this tendency also raises the chances of driving impaired.
GUIDE (Gwinnett United in Drug Education) issued a report this week that one out of every seven drivers on a Friday or Saturday night is impaired, either under the influence of alcohol or drugs; that number goes up during any holiday.
Nearly half of all motor vehicle fatalities are alcohol related. About 12% of drivers involved in fatal crashes are young drivers, aged 15-20 years—on a positive note, the number of vehicle accidents in this age range has decreased in the last twenty years, according to this website. One third (33 percent) of drivers killed have been drinking and of those killed, 25 percent had a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, according to GUIDE.
To avoid driving impaired at any time, consider the following factors:
- Body size (the smaller you are, the more impaired from alcohol you will be
- Gender (women absorb alcohol faster and metabolize it slower than men)
- How fast you drink (Never drink more than 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine or 1.5 oz liquor in an hour)
- Tired or sick (Alcohol will have even more effect when illness or fatigue is in the picture.)
- Empty Stomach (High protein foods like meat, fish or cheese slow down absorption of alcohol.)
- Pregnancy (Alcohol crosses the placenta in similar concentrations for a fetus that is less than 10% of the weight of an adult)
- Avoid complicated tasks (reaction times are slower; thinking process can be affected; and the perception may be that there has been no effect at all)
- While taking certain medications (alcohol interacts with certain medications to make the alcohol more effective or to block the action of the medications.)
- Only time can decrease the effects of alcohol; drinking coffee, cold showers, exercise or other common cures stretch the time since the alcohol entered the system but does not lower the Blood Alcohol Content.
Be a responsible host when guests are drinking alcohol:
- Plan other activities that will keep the mood elevated without less alcohol
- Don’t pressure anyone to drink or to have another just before they leave
- Offer non-alcoholic drinks as well
- Serve non-salty food that does not cause increased thirst
- Discourage/do not tolerate excessive drinking
- Ask friends, relatives or employees to serve as designated drivers in advance (offer special rewards for their “sacrifice”)
- Watch for signs of impairment: slurred speech, poor coordination, loud talking, slowed reaction times. If these signs are noted, shut down the alcohol supply immediately. Arrange for someone else to take the person home or call a taxi.
Anyone who serves alcohol to guests or customers is liable for the consequences (to themselves, their property or other people) of intoxicated guests or customers.
December has been designated National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.