By Andre Smith
The problem of drinking and driving is a worldwide issue, and each year people are killed or seriously injured because of someone’s decision to drink alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car. Educational programs have helped in some ways, but regardless of how many warnings and statistics are espoused, people still make the decision to drink and drive. Part of the explanation as to why this is can be found in sociology and the fact that people in social situations will do anything, including drink and drive, to avoid embarrassment. Rather than say they need to wait an hour to drive, they’ll simply say “I’m fine,” and most of the time the people at the gathering will not object. This is a dangerous situation to be in, not only for the soon-to-be drunk driver, but for everyone on the road, as well.
Fortunately, there are many things that can be done on everyone’s part to help make driving on the roads safer and to avoid a terrible accident. Whether you’re a party host, a driver, an attendee at an event, or someone on the road that witnesses drunk driving in action, there are measures you can take to prevent a serious accident from occurring. Here are 10 ways you can help save lives.
1. Be Responsible
DUI attorneys all over the world, from California, in the United States to Queensland, Australia, see the detrimental effects of a few ill-conceived decisions as they represent those who have been charged with DUI or DWI offenses. In Queensland, Australia, the legal limit of driving is much lower than it is in the United States and many other countries, and their laws are stricter as far as penalties given to those who break the laws. But regardless of where you are and what the law is, being responsible is the number one way you can help avoid an accident. Being responsible while drinking means quitting long before you leave, or making other arrangements; as an observer it means doing what you can to prevent drunk driving and to report it to the proper authorities when you see it; and as a party host, it means taking all the measures you can to ensure that drunk driving is not a possibility at your event.
2. Appoint a Designated Driver
Decide ahead of time who will be the designated driver in your group. If you’re hosting a party, have a couple of people willing to drive others home if they’re too intoxicated to drive themselves. It is estimated by some that each year in America alone, 73 million people utilize or volunteer to be designated drivers. Social stigma has changed, and using or offering to be a designated driver is no longer an oddity, it’s the norm. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to drive you home, and if you don’t drink or simply want to help out, offer to be a designated driver.
3. Call a Taxi
Taxi fees are usually not that high, and calling a taxi can help ensure you get home safely. In fact, many taxi companies will offer to take you home for free if you are intoxicated, especially on nights such as New Year’s Eve when many people will be drinking.
4. Take the Keys
If you are at a party and you can see that one or a few people are quite intoxicated, or even a little buzzed, be sure to take their keys. If they have their keys, ask them to hand them over. If they get mad, it’s probably just an indication that you’re doing the right thing. Better yet, those who plan to drink should hand over their keys at the beginning of the night to the designated drivers.
5. Have Non-Alcoholic Options
For every alcoholic option you offer at your party, be sure you have water, juice, and other non-alcoholic options available, as well. Many people who start drinking alcohol continue drinking it because there isn’t much else available. Having other options can help avoid a drunk driving situation.
6. Don’t Pressure Guests to Drink
Never encourage drinking. Having drinks available is one thing, but encouraging or pressuring guests to drink is a recipe for disaster. If people who weren’t planning to drink feel socially pressured to do so, they may not have a backup plan on how to get home and choose to drive anyway.
7. Stop Serving Alcohol in Advance
If your party ends at midnight, stop serving alcohol at 10 o’clock or earlier. By cutting off the alcoholic beverages long before the party is over, you can prevent some people from drinking and driving and allow others to sober up before leaving.
8. Serve Food
A big mistake that many party hosts make is offering lots of alcohol, but not offering any food. A high amount of alcohol mixed with not enough food is a recipe for getting very drunk, very quickly. Some studies have shown that offering high protein food can help make guests feel full so they won’t drink as much, but only time can sober a person up.
9. Have a Bartender
Allowing guests to mix their own drinks is a big mistake. If you are the host, you have a right to control how much alcohol people are going to have. Utilize a trustworthy person to be the “bartender” for the night so he or she can keep an eye out for others and restrict alcohol after a certain point.
10. Call the Police
If you are driving and you see someone driving suspiciously or it is very clear they are under the influence, call the authorities immediately. Don’t drive too close to them, and do not, under any circumstances, try to stop the car on your own. Report the drunk driver and let the authorities do their job. You’re saving lives, as well as your own.
Know the Signs
While these tips can help keep you and others safe, knowing the signs of a drunk driver on the road is also imperative. After all, you can’t call the police if you aren’t sure how to identify drunk driving. Sometimes it is very obvious, but other times there are subtle indicators that someone has had alcohol or other drugs before driving. Here are some of the tell-tale signs of drinking and driving:
- wide turns and weaving
- straddling the center line
- driving unnecessarily slow
- braking for no apparent reason
- driving at dark with no headlights
By knowing the signs, calling the authorities, keeping an eye out for your friends, hosting a responsible party, and making arrangements ahead of time for your transportation, you can save many lives, including your own. Enjoying yourself is certainly not a crime, but getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking is, and taking a few simple steps can help ensure that adverse consequences are not experienced.
About The Author
Andre is a marketing consultant from Brisbane, Australia. His two great passions are cars and football. He is also a blogger and has written a number of automotive articles that you can read on his Google+ page.