December tends to be a very busy time of the year for many families. It is packed with holidays starting at Thanksgiving and going through New Years. Many holiday festivities involve drinking, or people using drugs or alcohol to relax and unwind. This can put people’s lives at risk as impaired drivers get behind the wheel.

In 2014, President Barack Obama declared December as Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Month, or National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. This initiative is intended to make people more aware of the dangers of impaired driving and encourage them to drive safely and responsibly. According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 30 people die in the United States each day in motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers. To put this in perspective, that equates to one death every 51 minutes.

Impaired driving not only puts those who are intoxicated at risk, but also passengers in their car, other drivers, and pedestrians. These deaths are preventable with increased awareness and safety precautions. Many people recognize the danger that alcohol can pose, but drugs can cause impairment too. This can range from delayed reaction time and poor perception to difficulty with motor skills and memory problems. When driving, you want to be as alert and focused as possible to be aware of everything going on around you. Drugs and alcohol can keep you from reacting in time to prevent an accident.

Staying Safe on the Roads

The best way to stay safe this holiday season is to stick to alcohol-free beverages. A quick Internet search can provide you with a variety of festive “mocktails” for all to enjoy. This also ensures that guests won’t be intoxicated as they head home after a night of fun. Instead of making drinking the focus of the event, play games, dance to the music, tell funny stories, and simply appreciate the company of friends and family.

If someone has been drinking, offer to be their designated driver or call someone to take them home. Don’t let them drive themselves. Call the police if you see impaired drivers on the road to keep the community safer. When everyone works together, we can help reduce drunk and drugged driving and raise awareness of this dangerous problem.

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