impaired driving prevention month

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

Throughout the United States, too many lives are cut short by drunken driving, drugged driving or distracted driving. It takes a devastating toll on communities and families everywhere. This month, road traffic will increase with holiday traffic. Unfortunately, DUI and fatal drunken-driving crashes also increase.

During December 2012, 830 people lost their lives in crashes involving a drunken driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s 12.4 percent of the 10,322 people who died due to a drunken driving accident in 2012. Of those 10,322 people, 3,398, or 44 percent, were accidents that occurred on Texas roads, according to NHTSA.

Because of high number of impaired accidents in December, President Barack Obama has issued a presidential proclamation declaring December 2014 as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. Obama urges “all Americans to make responsible decisions and take appropriate measures to prevent impaired driving,” according to the proclamation.

Obama wants Americans to dedicate themselves to driving safely and responsibly, and to promote these behaviors among family and friends. The proclamation states that Obama wants to increase the awareness and dangers of impaired driving in all its forms. He also noted that illegal drugs, prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications can be just as deadly on the road as alcohol.

With these staggering statistics, Next Step would like to offer some tips to ensure safe roadways this holiday season:

  • Always plan ahead for a sober driver, using a taxi or public transportation. If you decide on a designated driver, have cash and the local taxi’s information just in case.
  • Don’t let someone behind the wheel who is impaired. Calmly talk to the driver and explain that you don’t want them to hurt themselves or others. If you can, try to take their keys. If all else fails, call the police. It’s better to have the police handle the situation and lead to a possible arrest than to have your friend injure or kill themselves or someone else.
  • Call 911 to report a suspected an impaired driver. If you suspect a drunk or drugged driver, stay away from the car and take note of the license place and car color and model. Call the police to give them the car information and location and direction the car is headed.
  • Talk to your loved ones about the dangers of impaired driving. Talking to your loved ones about the dangers about drunk driving is important year round, but you can use the National Impaired Driving Prevention Month as a starting point for the conversation. Inform them of a few statistics and how important sober driving is.

Impaired driving, whether through the use of alcohol, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, illegal drugs or other means, puts your life and those of others at significant risk. Let’s work together to keep our community safe and save lives this holiday season.