We’ve dodged the Mayan end of the world, now it is time to party. New Years Eve is one of the most popular nights in America to imbibe alcoholic beverages.
But, before we hit the bubbly then hit the road, there are a few things to consider.
Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 48 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $51 billion.
Thankfully, there are effective measures that can help prevent injuries and deaths from alcohol-impaired driving.
How big is the problem?
• In 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31 percent) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
• Of the 1,210 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2010, 211 (17 percent) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
• Of the 211 child passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2010, over half (131) were riding in the vehicle with the alcohol-impaired driver.
• In 2010, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. That’s one percent of the 112 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year.
• Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18 percent of motor vehicle driver deaths. These other drugs are often used in combination with alcohol.
Regardless of the age, at all levels of blood alcohol concentration, the risk of being involved in a crash increases. But, it is greater for young people than for older people.
Among drivers with BAC levels of 0.08 percent or higher involved in fatal crashes in 2010, more than one out of every three were between 21 and 24 years of age (34 percent). The next two largest groups were ages 25 to 34 (30 percent) and 35 to 44 (25 percent).
Whenever social plans involve alcohol, one should make plans so they don’t have to drive after drinking. For example:
• Prior to any drinking, designate a non-drinking driver when with a group.
• Don’t let friends drive impaired. Take their keys away.
• If you one has been drinking, they should get a ride home or call a taxi.
• If one is hosting a party where alcohol will be served, they should remind guests to plan ahead and designate their sober driver; offer alcohol-free beverages; and make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.
Remember, it is supposed to be a celebration. We don’t need alcohol to have a good time, but if it is involved, remember the goal is to make it home alive and make sure we don’t cause harm to anyone else.