National Impaired Driving Prevention Month and the Importance of Drunk Driving Awareness

With National Impaired Driving Prevention Month once again kickstarting this December, it’s extremely important to focus on drunk driving awareness, particularly during the holiday season. National Impaired Driving Prevention Month not only aims to bring more awareness to this pressing issue, but to help others implement holiday travel best practices. This way, people can gain insight into valuable tips for staying safe, and our communities as a whole can avoid preventable deaths associated with drunk driving.

Holiday Drinking and Driving

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month was implemented in December due to the increased correlation between holiday drinking and driving, especially around Christmas and the New Year. With more social gatherings and parties during this time, the need for drinking and driving awareness is absolutely vital to prevent these related incidences. By understanding safe things to do before drinking to avoid driving, individuals can learn valuable skills on how to prevent drunk driving to keep themselves and others safe during the holiday season.

Dangers of Impaired Driving

Getting behind the wheel of any motorized vehicle after consuming alcohol is a serious crime, however an alarming amount of individuals fail to heed the warnings, and as a result, put theirs and others lives at risk. Drinking alcohol brings on slow reaction times, impaired vision, lack of coordination, and poor concentration, and attempting to drive under these circumstances is both illegal and incredibly irresponsible. Perhaps the only way to stress how dangerous the combination is involves spreading drunk driving awareness on a global scale, to push the notion and educate individuals on ways to prevent these instances from happening.

Holiday Drinking and Driving Statistics

So why do we recognize National Impaired Driving Prevention Month? Because the statistics of these preventable deaths are staggering and an immediate cause for alarm. During December of 2018 alone, 839 people died in alcohol-related crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While drunk driving deaths typically represent around a third of all traffic fatalities, that increased to nearly 50% on December 24th and December 31st. Also, on Christmas of 2018, 35 people died in drunk driving crashes. also conducted a three-year study recently released in their 2021 Report. The study found that during the three-year period, there were 974 fatal crashes during the Christmas holiday. 

In an average year, 30 million Americans drive drunk, and 10 million Americans drive impaired by illicit drugs. A 2010 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also revealed that 13.2% of all people aged 16 or older drove under the influence of alcohol and 4.3% drove under the influence of illicit drugs during the past year. 

What makes these numbers so distressing is that 100% of the drunk driving-related deaths were preventable. Again, perhaps the best way to push this drinking and driving awareness is to inform individuals on ways to prevent it from happening.

How to Prevent Drunk Driving

Below are some safe things to do before drinking to avoid driving, as well as ways to prevent drinking in general during the holiday season.

  • Give yourself a cut-off time – Knowing when to stop drinking is crucial in preventing drunk driving. This includes giving yourself time to completely sober up before getting into a vehicle.
  • Designated drivers and ride-share services – It’s always advised to find a designated driver far ahead of time when you plan on drinking. If you’re unable to find one, car and ride-share services are a reliable option, and even they can be scheduled ahead of time.
  • Staying hydrated and eating food – Proper hydration and the incorporation of food while drinking can help prevent over-intoxication. This allows you to sober up more quickly, as well as controlling the amount of alcohol you’re consuming.
  • Mocktails – Who said you have to drink during a holiday festivity? Mocktails are a responsible choice to cut out alcohol completely, while still enjoying your time and staying safe.

Treating Substance Use Disorder

While National Impaired Driving Prevention Month is certainly crucial in highlighting the importance of drunk driving awareness, alcohol consumption during the holiday season will never dissipate entirely. For anyone struggling with substance use, especially in the winter months, seeking treatment will always be the best way to get the help they need.

Retreat Behavioral Health is providing comprehensive treatment options for individuals struggling with substance use, and other mental health conditions. With a strong emphasis on holistic substance use treatment, Retreat strives on helping individuals overcome drug and alcohol dependence. For more information regarding their services, or for any questions or comments, contact Retreat Behavioral Health today.