JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va.- Downed helicopters, rocket-propelled grenades, and roadside ambushes remain serious concerns to U. S. Soldiers in a combat theater.
What many Soldiers stateside don’t realize is that at home, the greatest threat to their lives is much more mundane, but equally or even more dangerous – the private motor vehicle crash while being impaired.
According to the U. S. Department of Transportation, automobile crashes are the leading cause of death nationwide for all people ages 18-34 years old.
Preventing automobile crashes is the priority of every Commander, First Sergeant and Soldier. The key to our success lies with the convincing young people to buckle up and to not drive impaired.
Partnership for prevention
That is why the JBM-HH Army Substance Abuse Program and Washington Region Alcohol Program is joining with other national, state and local highway safety and law enforcement officials to remind everyone this season to always designate a sober driver before each holiday party or event involving alcohol.
Since 1981, every President of the United States has proclaimed December “National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month” to help underscore the public’s commitment to preventing impaired driving and promoting the use of designated drivers and sober ride programs.
The month of December and the New Year’s Eve holidays are also often highlighted by significant increase in state and local law enforcement efforts to combat impaired driving such as the use of sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols.
In support of the president’s national initiatives starting on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022, from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. Jan. 1, 2023, WRAP will be hosting their annual SoberRide program in the National Capital Region.
This public safety initiative is a popular free cab service for would-be drunk drivers, which since 1991 has provided more than 80,000 safe rides home to Greater Washington area residents.
WRAP SoberRide provides a free Lyft ride home, up to $15. Users are financially responsible for anything over $15.
You must be 21 or older to use the SoberRide service. Valid in Lyft’s Washington, D.C. coverage area.
You cannot reserve a SoberRider or schedule a pickup in advance.
· The SoberRide codes will be released to the public at 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022 and Saturday, Dec. 31 and can be used only during the aforementioned periods.
· Visit www.SoberRide.com for codes.
Impaired driving is one of America’s deadliest problems.
Nationally, more than 11,654 people died in alcohol-related highway crashes each year. This means, every 30 minutes, or nearly 50 times a day, someone in America dies in an alcohol-related crash. Hundreds of thousands more are injured each year.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point in their lives.
The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and festive celebrations, but it is unfortunately also a time when there is a tragic jump in the number of alcohol-related highway fatalities each year.
The holiday leave period is the second-deadliest time of year for off-duty mishaps. Only the summer months have more recorded fatalities annually.
Looking at the past five years, the Army loses approximately 11 Soldiers during the holiday season, with most at the rank of E-3 or E-4.
An average of 10.2 fatalities occurs in private motor vehicle.
During the 2021-2022 holiday leave period, our Army lost nine Soldiers to off-duty fatal mishaps, with alcohol being suspected in many of the crashes.
The hazards of drinking during the holidays are greater than any other time, due to proximity and opportunity.
Alcohol is more available during this time and Soldiers tend to drink over their personal limits. At least 14% of Army holiday leave mishap fatalities during the past five years involved alcohol.
Remembering to designate a sober driver before the party begins is just one of several, simple steps to help avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for impaired driving during the holiday season, Other important reminders include:
· Never get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you’ve been out drinking
· If impaired, call a taxi – use mass transit if available – or call a sober friend or family member to come get you.
· Or just stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober.
· If you are hosting a party this holiday season, remind your guests to always plan to designate a sober driver, always offer alcohol-free beverages and plenty of food during the event, and make sure all your guests leave with a sober driver.
· Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. Take the keys and never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive while impaired.
Driving impaired or riding with someone who is impaired is simply not worth the risk.
The consequences are serious and real. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial cost of crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can be significant and not the way you want to spend your holiday season.
Remember this holiday season, if you catch a buzz, catch a ride.