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Drinking and Driving: Why Partying without a Plan is Dangerous
How many times has it happened that you and some friends went out for a drink or two, not planning on getting drunk, but not planning on how to get home safely if you end up drinking too much? Driving home after drinking is dangerous for yourself, your friends, and even complete strangers.
Drinking and driving remain a dangerous trend, especially among college-age students and adults in their 20s. Even those who “should know better” find it’s not always easy to admit they have had enough. The temptation to drive while under the influence can creep up on anyone. Having a plan in place is the best way to save yourself the anguish of making a poor decision.
Drinking and Driving is Risky
We all know the consequences of drinking and driving, but we don’t often think about them when we are in the moment. That’s why it is important to review the risks, have a plan in place, and follow through with that plan whenever you decided to drink.
First of all, the dangers of driving while under the influence are very real. You can get into a car accident that injures yourself, your loved ones, and anyone who happens to be on the road at the same time as you. You can get pulled over and get a ticket, have your license revoked, and spend time in jail. Just one bad decision can completely alter your life, costing you your health, your job, your financial stability, and your loved ones.
Drinking and Driving Statistics
According to the CDC:
- Every day, 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This is one death every 51 minutes.
- The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.
- In 2015, 10,265 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (29%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
- Of the 1, 1,132 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2015, 209 (16%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD):
- In 2013, 28.7 million people admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol – that’s more than the population of Texas.
- Almost half of all drivers who were killed in crashes and tested positive for drugs also had alcohol in their system.
- About one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders.
- An average drunk driver has driven drunk over 80 times before first arrest.
- On average, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.
- Over 1.1 million drivers were arrested in 2014 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
- Each day, people drive drunk more than 300,000 times, but only about 3200 are arrested.
- 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license.
Create a Plan
Binge drinking is never advised because it is hazardous to your health. However, intoxication can occur even after a drink or two. When planning a casual night of drinking, the responsible thing to do is establish a safe way to get home before your night begins. There are safe transportation options available there really is no excuse for driving while under the influence. The classic designated driver is still a good option, but now you can also take a taxi, call a friend, hire an Uber, take the bus, or walk. On certain high-risk nights of the year, communities offer free transportation to those who have been out at the bars.
It is important to create your plan before you go out. Have phone numbers handy or talk to friends beforehand to ask if they will be available when you call.
Follow through with the Plan
A huge mistake people make is they think they know better and can get home safely without following their plan. After you’ve had a few drinks is not the time to be making decisions about getting home. Stick to the plan. If you have set up a ride with a friend ahead of time, let them drive you home. If you have the Uber app in your pocket, get a ride. Don’t make the mistake of being an overconfident drinker, thinking you are alert enough to drive. It’s not worth the risk.
Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse
If you regularly go out drinking, if you crave alcohol, if you binge drink, or if you have driven while under the influence before and are tempted to do it again, take a closer look at your drinking habits. All of these actions, especially when they happen over and over again, point to alcohol abuse and dependence. Are you able to stop drinking? If you think so, try going 30 days without alcohol. If you are not able to make it just one month without drinking, you might have a problem and need help. When in doubt, the National Institutes of Health has interactive worksheets that will help you evaluate your drinking and track your alcohol consumption.
If you find your drinking is becoming problematic, get help. An alcohol rehab program will help you put an end to the cravings and get you back to your life again.