It's hard to imagine even one driver out there who doesn't know about the dangers of drunk driving. However, drunk driving is still a common occurrence on Bellingham and Whatcom County roads and beyond. The holiday season routinely shows an uptick in impaired drivers. In fact, according to MADD, one quarter of traffic-related deaths during Thanksgiving and Christmas involve drunk drivers.
November 1st begins MADD's "Tie One On For Safety" campaign. This is one of the biggest public awareness campaigns on the importance and ease of designating a sober driver. Drinking is a part of our culture, and it's not changing any time soon. However, people can celebrate responsibly. This takes some education and planning. It's so simple to do, especially in the age of Uber.
MADD lists some tips on ways party hosts can encourage guests to celebrate responsibly:
- As guests RSVP, check in that they have a plan in place to get home safely, i.e. a rideshare with a sober driver or a plan to call Uber or a cab or ride public transportation.
- Make "mocktails" or other fun drinks for designated drivers and those who prefer to not use alcohol. Provide water or other beverages like sparkling water for guests to enjoy between alcoholic beverages too.
- Remember only time sobers a person up. Not coffee, not a cold shower. You may need to offer a spare room or couch to give your guest(s) a place to stay put.
- Provide plenty of food to help guests metabolize the alcohol. Also, don't just rely on salty snacks, as guests who tend to eat salty foods drink more.
- Don't push drinks! Sure, it's called "social lubricant" but encourage guests to have a good time without alcohol.
- As the party host, have a good time but stay within your limits so you can help guests stay within theirs. Below you'll find recommendations for limits for both men and women.
This is just a few; click here for the complete list and please implement these tips to keep your guests and innocent victims safe.
Alcohol is a powerful drug. As I was following the online rabbit hole of links while researching the ubiquity of drinking in our culture, I found data that links alcohol to cancer. Scientists aren't sure of why yet, but studies show that alcohol can promote cancer. From the NIIAAA:
One explanation is that alcohol itself is not the primary trigger for cancer.We know that metabolizing, or breaking down, alcohol results in harmful toxins in the body. One of these toxins is called acetylaldehyde. Acetylaldehyde damages the genetic material in cells—and renders the cells incapable of repairing the damage. It also causes cells to grow too quickly, which makes conditions ripe for genetic changes and mistakes. Cancer can develop more easily in cells with damaged genetic material.
There's not a whole lot of leeway for adults to remain "low risk" for the health problems associated with alcohol use. Here again, from the NIAAA:
Research demonstrates “low-risk” drinking levels for men are no more than 4 drinks on any single day AND no more than 14 drinks per week. For women, “low-risk” drinking levels are no more than three drinks on any single day AND no more than seven drinks per week. To stay low-risk, you must keep within both the single-day and weekly limits.
Long story short, if you want to imbibe during this holiday, make a plan for that and designate a sober driver. If your drinking habits extend beyond the holiday season, take a look at the health risks you're also tying onto your lifetime.
If you've been hit by a drunk driver, call Bill Coats Law immediately. Drunk driving is illegal but financial compensation from your losses does not automatically come easily from insurance companies in business to build revenue. Be safe out there.