teenagers and winter driving
  • By Jana Rhodes
  • Posted November 26, 2014

Winter Driving Safety Part III: The Holidays

Part Three of A Three-Part Blog Series

From Thanksgiving to New Years, the holidays are a time of love and laughter, fun and celebration. It is a joyous and festive time of year, but sadly, there is a downside. Every year, a high number of holiday partygoers “celebrate” with one (or more!) adult beverage too many and then make the dangerous decision to get behind the wheel of a car.

Here are a few reminders to help you and yours have a happy and safe holiday season:

Never Drink and Drive!

We stress this at the holidays, but this goes for EVERY day of the year: NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE – AND NEVER LET OTHERS DRIVE IF THEY HAVE BEEN DRINKING!

Even if you’ve only had a drink or two, and don’t consider yourself “drunk,” know that “buzzed driving” is considered drunk driving. You can be arrested, or worse – harm yourself or someone else. So if you’re drinking, or plan to be – don’t drive. It isn’t worth the risk. It’s just that simple.

Plan in Advance:

If you’re heading to an event and expect to be drinking, make arrangements in advance for transportation that does not involve operating a vehicle, or plan to stay the night away from home.

Recruit a designated driver, or volunteer to stay sober and serve as the designated driver for others in your group.

Hosting an Event:

  • Have a plan for your guests ahead of time. Let them know you will be collecting keys at the door and only those sober and clear-headed at the end of the night will be given their keys as they leave.
  • Have your local cab company’s phone number on-hand for those who need transportation and/or be prepared to have a place for guests to sleep.
  • Offer plenty of non-alcoholic drinks for your guests.
  • If alcohol will be made available, serve food. This may help keep guests from over-indulging on drinks alone.

Designated Driver Services

Many cities have designated driver services available. Check out this nationwide directory to see what might be offered in your area: www.drinkinganddriving.org/designated-driver-services/

Some community organizations offer special low cost, or even free, designated driver services around the holidays. Contact your local law enforcement or highway patrol agency to inquire about options near you.

The Most Dangerous Times

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more accidents involving drinking and driving occur between the hours of midnight and 3 A.M. than at any other time of day. If possible, avoid being on the roads during those hours, especially this time of year, when drunk driving fatalities are typically at their highest.

Sober Drivers: Stay Alert, Exercise Caution

You may be driving sober, but that doesn’t mean others driving near you are acting as responsibly. Drive with caution. Don’t speed and keep a safe distance between your vehicle and others on the road. Pay extra attention to other drivers, especially when driving on evenings and weekends, and on or around major holidays.

Parents, be sure to stress these points with your teen drivers, too. Remember, young drivers are still gaining critical experience behind the wheel. Continue to coach them and talk with them about safe driving practices regularly, even after they’ve obtained their license.

Factor in Winter Weather

Drunk driving is dangerous in any season, but add in difficult winter road conditions and you have a powerful recipe for disaster. Even perfectly alert drivers can easily slip and slide on icy or snow-covered roads. Alcohol and other substances impair our judgment and reaction times, which means even more accidents are likely to occur.

Even if you’re not planning on drinking, check the weather report before you head out. If the forecast calls for ice or snow, consider changing your plans to avoid being on the roads in bad weather.

Parents of Teenagers

The legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21. We certainly DO NOT advocate that it is ever okay for minors to indulge before they’re of legal age – but we are aware that it does happen:

  • A 2012 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that nearly 25% of teen drivers involved in fatal car crashes had been drinking.
  • A 2013 national survey revealed that 22% of teens admitted to riding in cars with teen drivers who had been drinking.

Chances are, your teens are aware of your zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking. Be that as it may, it is important to have regular talks with your kids about the dangers of drinking and driving. Remind your teen NEVER to try to drive if they’ve sampled an alcoholic drink, and NEVER to get in the car with friends who have been drinking.

Encourage kids to have the courage to speak up if they are in the company of others who have been drinking and are planning to drive, or ride in a car with someone who has. Taking keys away from an impaired friend, or even reporting the friend to someone who can intervene, may just save a life. This can be a tough thing for kids (and even adults) to do, but an uncomfortable confrontation is never as difficult as mourning the loss of someone you care about.

Spread the Word

Please share these important reminders with those you care about. Talk to your friends and family. Post a link on Facebook, tweet it from the rooftops, and email it to your co-workers before the annual company holiday party. Let’s all do what we can to change the statistics this holiday.

Remember…

The holidays are supposed to be a time of happiness. We want everyone to have a great time this holiday season. So celebrate, have fun, and spend time with those you love. Be merry – and stay safe – because we want you to have a great holiday season next year, too.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at MOTOsafety.

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