Drunk Driving Can Be Stopped
Designated drivers have probably saved nearly 50,000 lives and spared many more thousands of people from suffering injury from drunk driving. 1 Over nine out of 10 Americans who attend social events where alcohol is served would like to see designated drivers used. And the proportion of people using or being a designated driver has increased dramatically over time. 2 Each year over 73,000,000 Americans either serve as a designated driver or are driven home by one. 3
A designated driver is simply a person who agrees to abstain from alcohol and be responsible for driving others home. The others are free to drink or not as they choose. 4 Many establishments provide free non-alcoholic beverages to designated drivers.
A Great Idea
A designated driver helps friends and family
- avoid embarrassment
- keep their drivers licenses
- avoid fines
- stay out of jail
- prevent senseless injury and death 5
Advantages to the designated driver concept:
- The non-drinker has a legitimate and respected role at a social function where alcohol is served. There is no stigma to abstaining because the designated driver is considered an important member of the group. Being a designated driver can also help legitimize a personal choice not to drink.
- The designated driver approach prevents driving under any level of impairment because that person consumes no alcohol. It doesn't require a driver or passenger to determine if a person is too impaired to drive.
- The server or host can offer a positive alternative to drunk driving by encouraging a group to designate a driver.
- The designated driver concept is easy to understand, simple to implement, costs nothing, and is effective. 6
Tips for designated drivers:
- Plan ahead whenever you are going to socialize with alcohol beverages
- Decide ahead of time who will not drink any alcohol before or during the party or event
- Consider taking turns being the designated driver (Look after your friends and family and they can look after you)
- Larger groups should have more than one designated driver 7
In addition to being or using a designated driver, you can save lives by taking car keys from intoxicated people to prevent them from being drunk drivers.
Here are some helpful hints on how to get the keys from a drunk person about to drive:
- Be calm. Joke about it. Make light of it.
- Make it clear that you're doing the drunk person a favor.
- Locate their keys while they're preoccupied and take them away. They will probably think they've lost them and will be forced to accept another mode of transportation.
- If it is a close friend, try to use a soft, calm approach. Suggest to them privately that they've had too much to drink and it would be better if someone else drove them home or if they took a cab or other transportation.
- If it's a good friend, spouse, or loved one, tell them that if they insist on driving, you are not going with them. Tell them that you will ride with someone else, take public transportation, or walk.
- If it's someone you don't know well, speak to their friends and have them make an attempt to persuade them to hand over the keys.
- If possible, avoid embarrassing the person or being confrontational. 8
Report Drunk Drivers
If you see a driver doing these things, report the car along with its description and location, to the police or sheriff. The driver may be ill or intoxicated and shouldn't be on the road. Signs of drunk driving may include:
- driving with windows rolled down in cold weather
- passing dangerously
- straddling the center line
- making wide turns
- driving slowly
- forgetting to turn on headlights
You really can make a difference!
Although thousands of lives are saved each year by both designated drivers and those who don't let friends or others drive drunk, many more are needlessly lost. Each such death is a tragedy affecting many others who are left suffering and grieving. Be a designated driver . . . be a hero.
filed under: Drinking and Driving
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