Driving drunk, drugged, or distracted poses a significant threat to drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and all who share our roads. During this holiday season, incidents of impaired driving occur more frequently, and every December, we observe National Impaired Driving Prevention Month to highlight steps we can take to improve safety on our streets and raise awareness of these preventable dangers.

Recently, the number of traffic crash fatalities caused by impaired driving has unfortunately increased — last year, preventable alcohol-related driving fatalities accounted for nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities. Consumption of alcohol by drivers, even those who are of legal drinking age, is highly dangerous, and drug use, including prescription drug use, can also harm judgment, perception, and the motor skills used when driving. Distracted driving — including eating, tending to passengers, and using a cell phone — can also be dangerous and is equally preventable.

With all of the merriment of the holidays, it’s important to remember to keep yourself and others safe when celebrating. These tips from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) can help:

Attending a party or celebrating elsewhere?

  1. Before the party begins, designate a sober driver or plan another way to get home safely.
  2. If you don’t have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend or family member to get you; or just stay in for the night.
  3. Use your community’s sober ride program.
  4. Never let friends drive if they have had too much to drink.
  5. Always buckle up – it’s still your best defense against drunk drivers.

Hosting a party?

  1. Remember, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in a drunk-driving crash.
  2. Make sure all of your guests designate their sober drivers in advance, or help arrange alternate transportation.
  3. Serve lots of food and include lots of non-alcoholic beverages.
  4. Stop serving alcohol at a certain point and begin serving coffee and dessert.
  5. Keep the numbers for local cab companies handy, and take the keys away from anyone who has had too much to drink.

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