Good idea to plan ahead
With the holiday season upon us, the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) are committed to raising awareness about the dangers of impaired driving so that Californians travel safely during this festive time. As celebrations ramp up, it’s crucial to remain vigilant on the roads, particularly when it comes to preventing driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medications. By emphasizing the importance of sober driving and encouraging drivers to follow the rules of the road, the OTS and Caltrans aim to make this holiday season joyful, memorable, and above all, safe for everyone on California’s roads.
Being responsible and driving sober are the most valuable gifts drivers can give. Drunk driving remains a chronic issue and represents a major threat to the safety and well-being of the public, especially during the holidays. In December 2021 alone, 1,013 people were killed in the U.S. in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A total of 13,384 people died in alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths in 2021 — a 14% increase from 2020.
Additionally, the use of any impairing drug, whether it’s marijuana, prescription medication, over-the-counter drugs, or illegal substances while driving is illegal. Most drugs taken for colds, allergies, and muscle or nerve relaxers can cause drowsiness and impair the ability to drive safely. Combining medicine with alcohol or other drugs increases impairment, making it necessary to stay informed and alert. Any drug that “may cause drowsiness or dizziness” or with a “do not operate heavy machinery” warning label should not be taken before driving. Do your research and understand how certain drugs may affect your driving ability.
To help create safer streets and encourage Californians to take a proactive role in preventing impaired driving, the OTS and Caltrans offer the following tips to celebrate the holiday season responsibly:
• Plan ahead for a sober driver if you plan to drink alcohol or use an impairing drug.
• Don’t let your friends drive impaired.
• If you have been drinking, call a taxi or ride-sharing service.
• If hosting a gathering with alcohol or other substances, make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.
• Know your limit. Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is affected by factors like height, weight, food intake, drug, and medication use.
• If you can safely do so, protect others by taking their keys if they attempt to drive after consuming alcohol.
Taking proactive steps such as planning for a sober driver, choosing designated drivers, and making sure guests leave with sober drivers are simple yet effective measures. By understanding the devastating consequences of impaired driving and following the tips provided by the OTS and Caltrans to celebrate responsibly, you can help save lives. Let’s embrace the spirit of the holidays by looking out for one another, making responsible choices, and ensuring that the magic of this season is paired with the gift of safety on our roads.
In 2021, the OTS and Caltrans introduced the “Go Safely” game plan to discourage impaired driving and promote the use of designated sober drivers when attending sporting events, concerts or functions where alcohol is served. Additionally, the OTS grant programs provide funding to agencies and non-profit organizations across the state to address alcohol and drug-impaired driving issues.
For more information and resources on DUI prevention, visit www.gosafelyca.org or email ContactOTS@ots.ca.gov.