COLUMN: Tips for drunk driving prevention

Each year we are continually reminded of the statistics regarding drunk driving. Whether the news of an accident or fatality is given to us via television newscast, newspaper or word of mouth, the thought of suffering in such a tragedy or accident may seem unlikely to yourself, your family or your friends.

Sadly, that is not the case. The media reports that every 33 minutes, a person dies because of getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated. The National Commission Against Drunk Driving reports that motor vehicle crashes are the leading most cause of death to youths, and half of all alcohol related automobile accidents result in fatality. The effects of alcohol on driving include:

* Dulls judgment and concentration

* Slows reaction time

* Leads to multiple, blurred and restricted side and night vision

* Hinders muscle control and coordination

* Exaggerates emotions

* Increases drowsiness

So what can we do to keep an accident like this from occurring knowing that there may always be someone on the road driving under the influence? If you know you will be drinking, then make sure you have a designated driver, a cab or some sort of public transportation to take you home. Arrange your transportation plans before the party begins to prevent any thought of driving home under the influence of alcohol.

If someone has been drinking and they want to drive home, then find them a cab or a sober friend to take them home or offer them a place to stay until they are sober. Remember to stay calm, use humor to persuade them to give up his/her keys, refuse to ride with them, point out that they may hurt someone if they drive, and if all else fails, take the keys and hide them. Calling on friends and loved ones for a safe ride home is better than a call from the hospital or jail.

During this winter holiday you should also be cautious of other drivers who may be driving under the influence of alcohol. Watch for motorists who may be weaving or swerving, accelerating and breaking frequently, not obeying traffic signs and signals or even tailgating or driving with the lights off. If you do encounter these behaviors by a motorist on the road, seek safety and call 911.

You don't want to be another drunk driving statistic. Have a safe holiday season, and please, don't drink and drive.

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