The end of the year is full of holiday magic, friends and family, laughter and giving. But nowhere on the calendar is there space for impaired driving, which is why December has been designated as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. The celebrations that are part of the season often include alcohol and make it the perfect time to raise awareness about the importance of driving sober and drug-free.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals that in 2013, almost 10,100 people were killed in alcohol-related vehicle accidents, accounting for nearly one-third of all U.S. traffic-related deaths. For perspective, that overwhelming number can be broken down to almost 30 fatalities each day or one every 51 minutes. Financial loss related to crashes involving alcohol is estimated to be $59 billion annually. Drugs such as cocaine and marijuana are often used in combination with alcohol and are involved in about 18 percent of motor vehicle driver deaths.
A 12-ounce can of beer and a 5-ounce glass of wine contain the same amount of alcohol and the same intoxication potential as 1.5-ounces of liquor. Since weight, gender, and age play roles in how a person reacts to alcohol, the rate of impairment varies greatly, but there is no doubt that the more alcohol a person consumes, the more impaired he or she becomes. After three standard drinks in one hour, an average 160-pound man experiences reduced coordination, loss of small-muscle control (such as focusing his eyes), and lowered alertness. The seriousness of the effects grows exponentially with each additional drink, including memory loss, reduced reaction time, issues with speed control, and reduced ability to brake appropriately.
If you host a party during the holiday season, remember that your responsibility extends to your alcohol policy. If you serve alcohol to a person who is noticeably drunk or is underage and that person causes a motor vehicle accident, you may be held partly responsible under Georgia law for the resulting injuries or damages. So, it’s a good idea to provide non-alcoholic drink options to guests and not serve alcohol the last hour of the gathering. Here are some other tips:
- Don’t let people mix their own drinks (instead, choose one person as the bartender to keep track of who is drinking how much).
- Don’t push drinking, since it really isn’t mandatory for having a good time.
- Don’t rely on coffee to sober someone up. That can only be done by allowing the person’s body time to process the alcohol.
If you think some of your guests have had too much to drink, think about the innocent people on the road who could be affected by their actions and go out of your way to drive them home, arrange for a ride with another guest who is sober, call a taxi, or invite them to stay over. And if you are going out to drink, make these arrangements ahead of time. The gratitude that often accompanies this time of year is a good reminder that safe driving practices save lives. Making responsible decisions and taking appropriate measures can go a long way toward reducing the terrible consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you have any questions about this topic, or if you have been injured by an impaired driver, the Macon personal injury attorneys of the Mann Law Firm can review your case and advise you whether you have grounds to seek financial compensation. Call us today at (478) 742-3381 or submit our online form.