The month of December is a very significant time in the lives of many families.  It is a time of celebration and setting aside time for family get-togethers and parties with friends and co-workers.  Often we get caught up in the moment and do a little too much celebrating, either by consuming too much food, or alcohol.

December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month.  The National Highway Transportation Administration reports that in 2008, 11,773 persons died in drunk driving crashes.  Those drivers with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or greater were involved.  This accounts for 31% (or almost 1/3rd of the 37,261 total traffic fatalities in 2008.)  The fatality rate was down 9.7% from 2007.  Factors contributing to this statistic were slow economy, strong law enforcement, the campaign to eliminate drunk driving, enforcing seat belt use, safer highways and safer vehicles.   Hopefully, the 2009 statistics will continue to drop.

M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) want to raise consciousness about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, through their “Tie One On For Safety” public awareness campaign.  Red ribbons to tie on your antennae or a theme window decal are available by contacting your M.A.D.D. affiliates.  You will be pledging to drive safe, sober, and buckled up during the holidays and coming year by displaying the red ribbon or decal.  Law enforcement agencies across the U.S. will increase their drunk drivers tactics during the holiday season with crackdowns including saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints.

Don’t be a headliner in your local newspaper this holiday season, or any time.  Here’s a sample of some pretty dumb acts:

  • Both Mom and Dad in Indiana were recently arrested, both for DUI.    Driving separate cars, they had children in each car at the time of their arrest.
  • A woman in California had decided her 13-year old son could be her designated driver!
  • A Minnesota couple were arrested for drunk driving and placed in jail.  There were 7 unbuckled children in the back seat of the car.

It seems there’s been an increase in women that have caused devastating accidents, while driving intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, with innocent children as their passengers.  Although there have been more moms involved, men still outpace women 4 to 1 for Driving Under the Influence.

M.A.D.D. suggests you do these four things to ensure a safe and sane holiday party:
1.    Designate a sober driver.

2.    Plan safe parties.

3.    Never serve alcohol to anyone under age 21.

4.    Be sure to get everyone home safe in case the plans or circumstances change.

Remember, there are innocent parties on the streets and highways.  They aren’t planning for a drunk driver or someone under the influence of drugs to mess up their holiday plans, or their lives, for that matter.  You don’t want to spend your holidays in jail or a hospital.  Think about this:  you want to have fun at a party, but what happens after the party not only affects you, but others you meet on the road.  Celebrate safely.