Each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, an average of more than 10,000 people are killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes (415 of which occur in the second half of December). It is nice dogs aren’t usually involved in this type of accident since we rarely drink or drive.
In an effort to reduce the incidences of alcohol-related vehicular accidents that occur each holiday season, we would like to focus this blog post on some facts about drinking and driving, along with helpful hints for staying safe and sane on the road.
- Every day in America, 28 people die as a result of drunken driving crashes.
- Drunk driving costs the United States $132 billion a year. (And that statistic doesn’t even include the cost of the alcohol!)
- About one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders.
- The FBI reports that males are more likely than females (15.1 vs. 7.9 percent) to drive drunk. I’ll bet the FBI would also concur humans are more likely than canines to drink.
- The rate of drunk driving is highest among 21 to 25 year olds (23.4 percent).
- The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that alcohol enters the bloodstream with a single sip. Alcohol’s immediate effects can appear within about 10 minutes. As you drink, you increase your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, which is the amount of alcohol present in your bloodstream. The higher the BAC, the more alcohol effects are exaggerated.
- Alcohol interferes with a person or dog’s coordination, driving skills and judgment. I’ve heard of some owners giving beer to their dogs. Bad move, people!
- Drinking can cause people to lose control and become aggressive, which can, in turn, negatively affect driving skills.
- Drinking can affect the brain for hours and may even influence a person’s driving (among other things), the next morning.
- Contrary to popular belief, caffeine does not help to reduce the effects of alcohol on the body. If you give coffee to a drunk, he’ll be awake but just as drunk.
- Drinking can cause reduced inhibitions, slurred speech, motor impairment, confusion, memory problems, concentration problems, coma, difficulty breathing, risky and/or violent behavior, and even suicide and homicide.
- Impairment is not determined by the type of drink, but rather by the amount of alcohol drunk over time.
- The CDC reports that adults drink too much and drive about 112 million times per year – almost 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving a day.
- Most people are surprised to learn what counts as a drink. The amount of liquid in a single glass, a can, or a bottle does not necessarily match the amount of alcohol in a single drink. Different types of beer, wine, or malt liquor can have varying quantities of alcohol. For example, many light beers have almost as much alcohol as regular beer – about 85% as much.
- Regular beer: 5% alcohol content
- Some light beers: 4.2% alcohol content
- In the US, one “standard” drink contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol, 5 ounces of wine (which is typically about 12% alcohol) or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol.
10 Strategies for Combining Holiday Revelry with Safety
1. Set a personal limit before you arrive at an event where alcohol will be served. My own limit is zero.
2. Inform a trusted friend, family member, or guest about your drinking limit. A close, trusted friend can help you stick to your goal, and help remind you when you should stop drinking alcohol.
3. Before you take a sip, arrange for a designated driver. Designated drivers should not have had anything alcoholic to drink. But pay for their food and alcohol-free drinks. Their sacrifice should be rewarded.
5. Consume alcohol at a slow pace. Don’t have more than one drink per hour.
6. Politely say no when offered a drink after meeting personal alcohol limits. Well-meaning friends, family members and party-goers may encourage extra drinking.
7. Make every other drink a nonalcoholic one. OR, better yet…make every drink nonalcoholic. That way, you can be your own designated driver.
8. Eat a full, healthy meal before drinking any alcohol. Food in the stomach helps slow the body’s absorption of alcohol. Either plan to eat appetizers and finger foods at parties or bring a small bag of your own high protein snacks (like bacon).
9. Make plans to leave holiday parties and events early. Having exit plans in place can prevent over-drinking and should reduce alcohol consumption.
10. While hosting a holiday party or event, assign a responsible person to serve drinks or to keep an eye on the bar. Don’t be afraid to cut people off.
Several national organizations, such as the NHTSA, MADD, the NTSB, and the CDC are calling on every state to conduct sobriety checkpoints during the national sober driving campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. Checkpoints are a proven countermeasure to save lives on the road. Do your part to keep roads safe this holiday season.
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