Springtime has arrived, and that means safe driving advocates are stepping up their efforts as more young people hit the roadways on their way to warm-weather celebrations, where imbibing in a drink or two is inevitable and driving while intoxicated is a high possibility.
After months of indoor winter activities, the trifecta of March Madness, spring break and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in March and April are irresistible to teens and college students. And so is the urge to party. So the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration(NHTSA) has ramped up its “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign, which enlists the backup of police officers nationwide to deter and crack down on drivers under the influence.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) also launched a month-long DWI Hangovers Don’t Go Away campaign aimed at curbing drunk driving and fatalities among young adults and college students. According to TxDOT, there were 25,158 DUI alcohol crashes in Texas in 2013, resulting in 8,702 injuries and 1,022 deaths. Of those crashes, more than 57 percent involved drivers between the ages of 17 and 34.
Meanwhile, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is promoting its Power of You(th) program to empower teens to say no to alcohol and never get in a car with someone who has been drinking.
So that you or your friends don’t get caught behind the wheel of a car after drinking this springtime, here are some top tips to prevent it from happening:
1. Don’t Drink. Make a pact with yourself that you will not drink alcohol if you are attending a party with your friends. Make a concerted effort to be the sober one in the group and take a proactive stance by offering to be the designated driver for the long haul.
2. Don’t Drive If You Drink. It’s as simple as that. Remember, even if you think you’ve had “just a little,” it’s most likely enough to impair your ability to drive.
3. Leave Your Car Parked. Most spring break destinations offer public transportation or have taxi cabs readily available. Use these alternative options and make it fun with a group of friends.
4. Don’t Ever Let Your Friends Drive After Drinking. Look out for your friends and always assume that whenever anyone is drinking it is DEFINITELY unsafe to get behind the wheel of a car no matter what.
5. Decide Beforehand How You’ll Get Home. If you know you’ll be drinking, come up with an exit plan that doesn’t involve driving and stick to it!
6. Ask a Friend or Parent to Pick You Up. Make arrangements with a parent or friend who won’t be attending the same event as you, or drinking, to pick you up at a designated time or when you call.
7. Stay the Night. If it’s possible for you to stay the night at the party host’s house or at a nearby motel, do it! You might just be nursing a hangover the next day but think about the consequences and cost involved with a DUI, or the tragedy that could occur if you had an accident.
8. Be the Party Host. Hopefully if you’re the host of the party, you won’t be going anywhere! Make sure you are on the lookout, though, for any friends or party attendees who intend on driving after drinking and make sure to invite them to stay the night. Designating a specific room or area for friends to stay over ahead of time, and announcing that it is available to attendees, is a good way to help people feel safe if they need a place to stay.
9. Encourage Your Friends to Use Public Transportation to and from the Event. Taking the bus, train or trolley can be an adventure with friends. Make arrangements to meet up at a bus or train station that is within walking distance to where you all live, and travel to and from your event without the worry of getting behind the wheel. Make sure to walk in groups at night—maybe a sleepover with friends is in order.
10. Opt Out. Hey, maybe a night filled with beer bongs, chugging and dancing till 3:00 a.m. just isn’t your thing. Kindly decline the party invitation and snuggle up with a good book and some chocolate ice cream!