December. As people, we stay up for getting along with family and friends to rejoice the vacations. It’s additionally a time when prevention can play an particularly essential function. December is a lethal month for impaired driving.
The Nationwide Freeway Security Site visitors Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2019 throughout the week between Christmas and New 12 months’s Day, 210 lives had been misplaced attributable to alcohol-impaired driving crashes. That’s 210 individuals in a single week who didn’t make it residence as a result of both they or somebody with whom they got here involved selected to make use of alcohol after which get behind the wheel. That very same yr, greater than 10,000 individuals died from drunk driving crashes alone.
These deaths had been preventable. That’s why for greater than 40 years, preventionists throughout the nation have noticed Nationwide Impaired Driving Prevention Month in December to lift consciousness that impaired driving will be lethal and to place methods in place for all of us to make it residence safely.
As everybody takes precautions to have the ability to safely return to in-person occasions, increasingly more celebrations are being added to the calendar. It could possibly be an intimate dinner at a pal’s home, maybe a cheerful hour to rejoice a return to the workplace, or a gathering of highschool buddies residence from faculty. In every occasion, alcohol and different substances is probably not essentially on the heart of the enjoyable however are a standard denominator.
Alcohol-impaired driving crashes—which vary from being underneath the affect of drugs to distracted driving to rushing—enhance all through December as extra individuals journey. SAMHSA’s 2020 Nationwide Survey on Drug Use and Well being confirmed over 26 million individuals ages 16 or older drove inebriated or illicit medicine throughout the previous yr. Roughly 17 % of those individuals had been 20 to 25 years outdated.
Motorcar crashes are a number one reason for demise and nonfatal damage amongst U.S. adolescents, leading to roughly 2,500 deaths and 300,000 nonfatal accidents every year, in accordance with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Whereas NHTSA’s “Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving” marketing campaign addresses driving underneath the affect of simply alcohol, it’s essential to notice that many substances can impair driving, together with marijuana, opioids, methamphetamines, and even prescribed or over-the-counter medicines.
The excellent news is that prevention works. As we come collectively this vacation season, educate your self and others on the dangers of driving whereas impaired and take steps to remain secure. We will begin with the science. There aren’t any shortcuts to “sobering up” and getting ready to drive; an individual’s coordination and response time are slowed lengthy earlier than they really present indicators of intoxication. Espresso will not be a cure-all. And even slowing or stopping consuming an hour or extra earlier than planning to drive doesn’t imply the alcohol has “worn off.”
We will have conversations forward of time so there aren’t these awkward “within the second” exchanges. Talk truthfully along with your youngsters, buddies, members of the family, and colleagues about expectations of habits and secure selections when attending vacation occasions, whether or not they happen in somebody’s residence (the place some can understand the principles are a bit extra versatile) or at a public venue. As well as, encourage ride-sharing providers for gatherings the place alcohol shall be served and check-in with company in the event you’re internet hosting to see in the event that they want a experience. With planning, you’ll be able to get rid of a spontaneous resolution to drive.
Mother and father and caregivers might face much more strain throughout the holidays, as many younger individuals are residence from college on break and keen to collect with their friends in a social setting. Assist your younger individuals socialize safely by:
- Discussing the hazards of underage alcohol and substance use—particularly when mixed with driving—and set expectations to your youngster’s habits. SAMHSA’s “Speak. They Hear You.” marketing campaign, together with its new cell app, helps dad and mom and caregivers begin these conversations.
- Sharing assets designed for youth that talk the details and penalties, like Underage Ingesting: Myths vs. Details and the Suggestions for Teenagers collection.
- Setting curfews if youth go to a celebration and providing to drive them or choose them up. Even when your teen abstains from alcohol, she or he might have a tough time saying “no thanks” to a peer driver who’s consuming.
- Coordinating with their buddies’ dad and mom about driving plans, in addition to sustaining substance-free environments at events. (Most states have social host legal guidelines that prohibit hosts from serving alcohol to minors. Some dad and mom might imagine it’s a secure choice if it’s occurring “underneath their roof”—but it surely’s nonetheless breaking the legislation and harmful.)
This vacation season, every of us has the facility to stop a tragedy and make sure that these we all know and care about get to and from their celebrations. Talking up about what’s OK and what’s not OK is an effective first step—not simply in relation to alcohol use but additionally different substances that may compromise our means to make it residence safely.
On the similar time, we ought to be aware that many in our communities could possibly be experiencing the vacation blues. In the event you or somebody you’re keen on wants psychological well being help and providers, I encourage you to name SAMHSA’s Nationwide Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP. If she or he is in disaster, the Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline gives free and confidential help: 1-800-273-TALK.
If we follow prevention to maintain ourselves and our communities secure, the vacations will be stuffed with the enjoyment we anticipate them to be.