As teens begin to drink at younger and younger ages, many parents have become concerned about their children’s risk of drinking and driving. Nearly 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes each day due to an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vehicle accidents remain the number one killer of adolescents, and this trend continues to grow. Drinking impairs a person’s ability to make crucial driving decisions. After just one drink, a driver can lose their ability to perform tasks necessary to operate a vehicle safely, such as proper braking, steering, and changing lanes. Alcohol can also cloud a drinker’s judgment, increasing the driver’s risk of making bad choices on the road. If caught, a person found driving after drinking can be charged with DUI or DWI. DUI is short for driving under the influence; DWI is short for driving while intoxicated. If you drink and drive, you can lose your license, may be charged hefty fines, and could even go to jail.
When Drinking Alcohol
- Be responsible.
- Choose a designated driver. Decide who's going to be doing the driving before you go out, and make sure that person doesn't drink any alcoholic beverages.
- Call a taxi. Sometimes even the designated driver slips. If nobody in your group is sober, take alternate transportation. Cab, train, bus, horse and buggy – anything's better than getting in the car with a drunk driver.
- Hide keys. Don't be afraid to take someone's car keys. If the person gets angry, it's probably proof you're doing the right thing.
When Throwing a Party
- Offer non-alcoholic beverages. Water, juice, soda pop – give your guests plenty of alternatives. And never pressure guests to drink alcohol.
- Serve plenty of food. A full stomach can slow the rate of alcohol absorption. Serve a great meal or have plenty of appetizers on hand.
- Stop serving alcohol well before the party ends. Give your guests an extra hour or two without alcohol before they head out the door.
- Arrange alternate transportation. Pay attention to your guests' alcohol intake and behavior. If someone has had a lot to drink or seems even the slightest bit tipsy, call a cab or set up a ride with a sober driver.
- Never serve minors.
Detecting Drunk Drivers
Law enforcement officials say there are several signs associated with drunk driving:
- Making wide turns
- Weaving, swerving, drifting, or straddling the center line
- Almost striking an object or vehicle
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Driving at a very slow speed
- Stopping without cause
- Braking erratically
- Responding slowly to traffic signals
- Turning abruptly or illegally
- Driving after dark with headlights off
Keeping these things in mind can help you avoid a dangerous situation. If you spot what you think is an impaired driver, keep a safe distance and call 9-1-1. Do not attempt to stop the vehicle yourself.