Every day, 28 people in the United States die in car accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. In 2015, 10,265 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (29%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. Records show drunken driving rates are highest on nights and weekends. That number peaks during the holiday season. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that 300 Americans die each year in the weeks that surround the Christmas and New Year’s holidays (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017).
Not only are there severe physical risks associated with impaired driving such as injury and even death, the financial costs are also high. While the national average cost of DUI is around $10,000, it can often be much higher or lower depending on where you live.
You may be responsible enough not to drive after drinking, but it can be difficult to stop an inebriated friend from getting behind the wheel. The next time you're at a party this holiday season, use these tips to keep your friends — and everyone else — safe on the roads.
Assign a designated driver
One of the simplest ways to keep you and your friends safe on the road without sacrificing a good time is to plan ahead. Choose a friend to be the group's designated driver for the night.
That way, you don't have to worry about catching anyone on the way out the door or try to hide keys from tipsy friends. When your night of merriment winds down, you can send your friends off without concern that they may injure themselves or someone else.
Provide nonalcoholic drinks
If you're the party host, offer a variety of drinks for your guests, including nonalcoholic beverages that are creative and festive. This will help people quench their thirst without going overboard, and keep designated drivers engaged as well. Serving hor d’oeuvres, and other snacks allow guests to eliminate drinking on an empty stomach.
Call a cab or ride service
You can always call a cab or ride service for an intoxicated guest. This is especially helpful if no one wants to play designated driver for the night. Services such as Uber and Lyft are a great option.
Wait it out
Nothing but time will sober someone up, so an easy way to stay safe on the road is to wait before getting behind the wheel. Alcohol metabolizes at a rate of about one drink per hour (although it varies by person). If you're the host, you can cut people off about an hour before the night ends, giving some people a chance to sober up and others the opportunity to find another way home.
If any friends head out too soon, persuade them to stick around longer, encouraging engagement, eating and conversation without additional alcoholic beverages.
How to get help
If you notice that a friend or loved one often gets intoxicated and tries to drink and drive, it may be part of a bigger issue. Driving while impaired can be a sign of an underlying problem and alcohol misuse.
Hickory House Recovery has a variety of inpatient and outpatient services that can help those with an addiction to alcohol, that meet guidelines for OWI treatment requirements.
For more information about alcohol addiction and recovery, call us at 317-434-5375 and visit hickoryhouse.com.