On average, 30 people are killed by drunk drivers every day in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While accidents happen, the sad fact is drunk driving is not an accident; it is the result of poor choices. Like many other poor choices, drunk driving is a preventable crime.
To this effect, the President of the United States designates each December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is the deadliest time to be on American roadways, with thousands killed and injured each holiday season. The NHTSA reports 1 in 3 fatal accidents are caused by drunk or impaired drivers. The damage isn’t just limited to people. Each year, drunk drivers cause almost $60 billion in property damages, according to the US Department of Transportation.
National Impaired Driving Prevention Month is a call to action, to reduce the number of deaths and injuries from a totally preventable cause. The NHTSA offers advice to concerned citizens as well as law enforcement agencies. Together, community and local police are making it harder to drive under the influence without getting caught. Police checkpoints will be massively increased in December, and citizens are encouraged to call 911 to report suspected drunk driving.
The consequences for a DUI charge should not be taken lightly. Experts estimate that a first time DUI offense costs the convicted $5,000 to $12,000, depending on the state. No drink is worth that price. The mug shot and arrest record become public domain, available for anyone to look up. Depending on the time of arrest, it could be hours or even days until bail is posted. A DUI marks a driver as high risk, so their insurance rate goes up approximately $100 a month. The ignition interlock system costs as well, not to mention the annoyance and lost time. A DUI usually becomes common knowledge at the workplace, and can prevent promotions and raises.
Fortunately, the NHTSA has some advice for preventing drunk driving. The Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over, and Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving campaigns are getting national attention and reminding drivers to think twice. Plan ahead and designate a non-drinking driver before going to a party or event. If someone has had too much, take away their keys. Do not let friends who are impaired drive. If you are hosting a party this December, gently suggest to guest that they designate a driver ahead of time. You can always offer to drive them home yourself, call a cab or rideshare service, or even let them stay overnight at your place. For maximum responsibility, you could only offer non-alcoholic drinks.
This December, do your part to not be a part of the tragic statistics. Promote National Impaired Driving Prevention Month among your at-risk friends and family, and pledge to not drink and drive. For more information, visit www.NHTSA.gov/Impaired.