December is National Drunk, Drugged  Driving (3D) Prevention Month
Col. Deborah B. Grays Garrison Commander Fort McPherson & Fort Gillem

Commander's Corner
Garrison Commander Fort McPherson & Fort Gillem

The holiday season is in full force, with holiday parties scheduled and Christmas day and New Year's Eve parties looming.

While I encourage you to enjoy the season and its opportunities to rejoice with Family and friends, I urge you to do so responsibly. December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving (3D) Prevention Month.

Of course, the principal concern is that driving under the influence of any drug that affects the brain could impair one's motor skills, reaction time and judgment. Impaired driving is a public health concern because it puts not only the driver at risk, but also passengers and others who share the road.

According to the National Highway and Safety Administration's 2007 National Roadside Survey, more than 16 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter medication.

More than 11 percent tested positive for illicit drugs. According to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 12.4 percent - 30.9 million - people drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year. Also in 2008, males were nearly twice as likely as females (16 percent versus 9 percent) to drive under the influence of an illicit drug or alcohol in the past year. These numbers are staggering, and they don't tell the deadliest side of the issue.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every day approximately 36 people die and 700 more are injured in motor vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver.

The CDC also reports that in 2006, nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States occurred in alcohol-related crashes. Everyone has a responsibility in preventing drunk or drugged driving. By following some simple guidelines, you can increase the safety for both you and your guests.

For example, if you plan to attend a party or other event where alcohol will be served, reserve the option not to drink alcoholic beverages.

If you intend to drink:

Aca,!Ac Plan ahead. Designate a nondrinking driver and give that person the car keys before the event begins. Also, if you are taking medication, even over-the-counter drugs, check with a pharmacist in advance of the event to determine any affect mixing the medication with alcoholic beverages may have.
Aca,!Ac Know your limit and stay within it. Don't participate in "chugging" or other drinking games that promote consuming extreme levels of alcohol.
Aca,!Ac Skip a drink now and then. Having a nonalcoholic drink between alcoholic ones will help keep your blood alcohol content level down.
Aca,!Ac Be honest with yourself. If you realize you're impaired, make arrangements with the host to stay until you're sober or call a friend or a taxi for a ride. If you are hosting a party:
Aca,!Ac Take the keys as individuals arrive to the event, and return them only when you're sure the individual isn't impaired.
Aca,!Ac Offer alcohol-free beverages and plenty of food. High-protein food, such as meat, cheese and peanuts, will help slow the absorption of alcohol into a person's body.
Aca,!Ac Ensure guests leaving are either sober or are leaving with a sober driver.
Aca,!Ac If children under the age of 21 are present, ensure they are not given access to the alcoholic beverages.

Whether you're attending or hosting an event, be observant, and speak up, if necessary. The holidays will be healthier if we not only take care of ourselves, but look out for others, as well.

While you're doing your part to ensure our roads are safe this month, law enforcement personnel will be doing the same. Impaired drivers don't only risk life and injury, they also take a chance of being arrested.

During the holiday season, in particular, police patrols and sobriety checkpoints are stepped up. A report created jointly by the University of Georgia and the University of Missouri show the perceived risk of arrest is one of the biggest deterrents to individuals who consider driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drunk and drugged driving is a very serious subject.

Since 1981, every president of the United States has demonstrated his commitment to preventing impaired driving by proclaiming December to be 3D Prevention Month. I ask that you make that same commitment for the safety of yourself and others.

Page last updated Fri December 11th, 2009 at 14:21