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ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- This holiday season let us all make it a safe, happy, and memorable one. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in an average year, 30 million Americans drive drunk, and nearly 10 million Americans drive impaired by illicit drugs. During the holiday season, the numbers are even more alarming.

According to the Department of Transportation, every holiday season, lives are lost due to drunk drivers. Reports from NHTSA show, between 2012 to 2016, 14,472 people lost their lives in a traffic crash during the month of December and of those, 28 percent died in a drunk-driving crash.

The numbers are staggering in 2018. The NHTSA found in just 2018 that there were 10,511 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes in which at least one driver had a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher totaling 29 percent of all traffic fatalities for that year. Note that an average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurring every 50 minutes in 2018.  Impaired driving includes distracted driving – texting or multi-tasking, drugged driving, and drunk driving. Therefore, take a stance in staying safe this holiday season.

Here are some great pointers to consider this season:

1.     It is a known fact the holiday season can bring about merry hearts and bright spirits, but this time of the year can also bring about the saddest moments when it comes to impaired driving. We can all play a major role in staying safe this year.  We can reduce the toll of drunk driving, by never drinking and driving.

2.     Planning a safe ride by designating a sober driver, or by using NHTSA’s Safer Ride app to call a taxi or a friend to be picked up.  Please note planning ahead means arranging ahead of time. The app is available for Android devices on Google Play and Apple devices on the iTunes Store.

3.     If you are planning to have a holiday party or festive gathering make sure, you take extra precaution by planning over the next few weeks.

4.     Make smart choices about how you and your guests are going to get home safely once the celebration ends.

5.     It is customary, that alcohol will be served and the intention is never to over drink; however, one drink might be too many. Therefore, designate a sober driver, or plan to use public transportation or a ride-hailing service, and encourage your friends to do the same.

6.     If you are the designated driver, make a commitment to 100% sobriety to keep you and your friends safe.

7.     If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement immediately.  Doing so could save the life of the driver, passenger, and others on the road.  In addition, if you have a friend who is about to drive impaired, take away their keys and help them arrange to get home safely — it will be the greatest gift you ever give them.

If you do choose to drink, please do it responsibly. The best way to avoid getting a DUI, being imprisoned because of an impulsive decision that may take a life or guilt ridden is to avoid drinking and driving entirely. If you are planning to have a few drinks while you are out, make sure you have a ride beforehand. DO NOT make an impulsive decision and put yourself or anyone in a situation where you feel that your only option is to drive home drunk.

For more information on driving safe this season, please visit:

*The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at www. https://www.nhtsa.gov/ or call toll free at 1-888-327-4236.

*Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration at www.samhsa.gov

*For more information on traffic fatalities is available from the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, NSA-230, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590. NCSA can be contacted at 800-934- 8517 or by e-mail at NCSARequests@dot.gov

*General information on highway traffic safety can be found at www.nhtsa.gov/research-data.