Catchin' a buzz? Catch a ride

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Impaired driving is one of America's deadliest crimes. Nearly 50 times a day, someone in the United States dies in an alcohol-related crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 16,885 people died in alcohol-related crashes, and hundreds of thousands more are injured each year. About three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point in their lives.

That's why the Schriever Health and Wellness Center and the Drug Demand Reduction Program here are 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 tragic jump in the number of alcohol-related highway fatalities each year between Thanksgiving and New Year's" said Eddie Roski, Schriever DDRP manager. "That's why we are out early reminding everyone this holiday season, if you catch a buzz, catch a ride.

"Designating a sober driver before the party begins is just one of several, simple steps to remember to help avoid a tragic crash or an arrest for impaired driving," he said, while offering these 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.

If you are impaired, call a taxi, use mass transit, or get a sober friend, family member or wingman to come and get you.

And remember -- friends don't let friends drive drunk. Take the keys and don't let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive while impaired.

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.

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 holiday are often 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," Mr. Roski said. "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 really significant and not the way you want to spend your holiday season."

So remember, this holiday season, if you catch a buzz, catch a ride.