2017-12-01 / Viewpoint

December is ‘National 3D Month’ Prevent Drunk and Drugged Driving

PERSPECTIVE
Michael Reed
Army Substance Abuse Program

The holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest on the nation’s roadways and also one of the most dangerous, due to a high incidence of alcohol-drug related traffic crashes.

December is “Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month,” which is a national campaign focused on keeping our highways and communities safe by encouraging our family members, DA civilians, Soldiers, Airman, Sailors and Marines to remain alcohol and drug-free when operating a motor vehicle. That is why the Fort Gordon Army Substance Abuse Program is joining with other national, state and local highway safety and law enforcement officials to remind everyone this holiday season to always designate a sober driver before each holiday party or event involving alcohol.

The holiday season is supposed to be a time for family, friends, and festive celebrations, but it is unfortunately also a time when we see a jump in the number of alcohol-drug related highway fatalities each year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. That’s why we are reminding everyone this holiday season, if you catch a buzz, catch a ride.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 10,497 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2015, accounting for nearly one-third (29 percent) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. Of the 1,132 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2015, 209 (16 percent) involved an alcohol-impaired driver. Drugs other than alcohol (legal and illegal) are involved in about 16 percent of motor vehicle crashes. Marijuana users were about 25 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use, however other factors – such as age and gender – may account for the increased crash risk among marijuana users.”

Each crash, death, injury impacts not only the person in the crash, but family, friends, classmates, coworkers and more. Even those who have not been directly affected help pay the $49 billion yearly price tag of drunk driving.

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 20.7 million people drove under the influence of alcohol and 11.8 million drove under the influence of illicit drugs.

Designating 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. Here are a few other simple reminders for a safer holiday season:

Don’t even think about getting behind the wheel of your vehicle if you’ve been out drinking, or under the influence of drugs. If you are impaired, call a taxi – use mass transit – get a sober friend or family member to come and get you; or just stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober. And remember – 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.

ASAP recommends if you are hosting a party this holiday season, remind your guests to plan ahead, always offer alcohol-free beverages during the event, and make sure all of your guests leave with a sober driver. For further information and tips on how to celebrate safely please see the “Celebrate Safely” brochure on the Ft. Gordon Army Substance Abuse Program web-site, http://www.gordon.army.mil/garrison_old/asap/, under the section entitled “Party Safely During the Holidays.”

ASAP will have displays set up during the month of December at the following locations: Post Exchange on Wednesday from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., in the lobby of Darling Hall from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Dec.13, the Commissary on Dec. 15 from noon to 1:30 p.m. and the 2nd Floor of Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to provide information on substance abuse and give everyone an opportunity to sign a pledge stating they won’t drive under the influence.

There will also be presentation on Drunk Driving on Dec. 8 provided by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Department at Alexander Hall on Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. This presentation is open to the public and will count toward the required substance abuse training hours for both DoD civilians and active duty Soldiers. To receive credit, simply sign the attendance roster at the venue.

Since 1981, every President of the United States has proclaimed December “National

Drunk and Drugged Driving (3D) 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 holiday are also highlighted by significant increases in state and local law enforcement efforts to combat impaired driving such as the use of sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols.

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 costs of a crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can be significant and not the way you want to spend your holiday season. For more information, contact Michael Reed, ASAP Prevention Branch chief at (706)791-5797, or email michael.a.reed177.civ@mail.mil. Join with ASAP in making this a safe, joyous and happy holiday season for everyone!

“So remember, this holiday season, if you “Catch a buzz, Catch a ride!”

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