The message about drinking and driving has been around since before the 1980s, but it still seems that many drivers are not getting the message. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), in 2007 about 12,998 people were killed in car accidents where a driver had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. In 2007, therefore, this means that about 31.7% of traffic deaths were alcohol-related and therefore fully preventable. This figure does not even take into account the number of serious burn injuries, broken bones, head injuries, and spinal cord injuries that resulted from impaired driving.
The summer poses a special challenge to groups such as MADD, because more outdoor festivities and more holidays often mean more drinking. Barbeques and hot days mean more beer for many people and many outdoor patios serve alcoholic drinks as well. Holidays such as the Fourth of July often involve drinking. Unfortunately, in some cases, people who have been taking part in drinking at these festivities get in their car.
Many people who drive drunk are not even aware that they are above their limit. It is possible for someone to feel sober but still be above the blood alcohol limit. Even one of two drinks can place a woman or a slender man above the blood alcohol limit. Simply “feeling” well enough to drive is not enough. It’s important to find out whether you are above the blood alcohol limit – even if you feel sober.
One good way to ensure that you don’t inadvertently drive under the influence is to purchase a small breathalyser device. Hardware and general stores now sell these for only a few dollars. They can be attached to your keychain and can tell you instantly whether you are near or over the blood alcohol limit. Testing your blood alcohol level each time you step to your car is an excellent practice that can ensure that you don’t drive under the influence.
If you are hosting summer events and serving alcohol, you, too, have a responsibility to ensure that your guests don’t get into their cars if they are under the influence of alcohol. Stop serving alcohol and start serving fruit drinks, soda, or water well before your event finishes. Make taxis or other means of safe transportation available to anyone who has had too much. Ask that anyone who has had too much take this transportation home instead of relying on their own car.
Keep in mind, too, that even small amounts of alcohol can add up. Even if someone is not technically above the blood alcohol limit, he or she could still be a danger on the road. If your event has run late, your guests may be sleepy. Even small amounts of alcohol can make these guests feel sleepier and can make them a hazard on the roads.