Protect Your Family and Friends
The key – planning ahead
If you are with someone who is about to drive after drinking, you are in a position to prevent them from getting behind the wheel. According to a recent survey to only about 10% of drinking drivers most often drink by themselves at home. This means that around 90% are with friends or family when they drink – people who could take action to prevent the problem from occurring.
Planning ahead is an important key to helping your friends and family members get home safely on those occasions when alcohol will be served. Why take a chance when the risks and the consequences are so great? Talking about it is the first step.
Hosting a party?
Make sure you plan ahead. Consider the following:
- Have a variety of beverages without alcohol on hand for your guests. Pop, juices, punches, mocktails, coffee and tea are alternatives. You know what your friends and family members prefer. But, if not, why not ask in advance?
- If you’re making hard liquor available, make sure a measure is available. Most people can’t accurately pour a one ounce drink and accuracy decreases the more alcohol is consumed.
- Talk to your friends early on to see if they have made plans to ensure they get home safely (e.g., someone has agreed to be a designated driver and will not consume any alcohol).
- At the end of the evening, if you are concerned that any of your guests are impaired, offer to call a cab or offer the spare bed or your couch. Tell your guest(s) that you are concerned about their safety – having a disagreement may not be pleasant but it’s better than risking the alternative.
Going out with others?
No one wants to be accused of being boring. But what’s boring about caring about friends or family members. Talk about how you’ll get home before you leave. Real friends will realize that you are concerned about their safety. Consider the following:
- Take turns being the designated driver – when it’s your turn, stick to beverages without alcohol.
- Leave the car at home when you plan to drink – public transit or a taxi are safer options for getting home.
- Spend the night and drive home the next day after the effects of the alcohol have worn off.
Concerned about family members?
Drinking is sometimes difficult to discuss. Problem drinkers or young people often don’t want to admit they drink if they think other family members or parents will be angry. They might feel that it’s worth risking driving so they don’t have to admit that they’ve been drinking alcohol. But wouldn’t you rather your loved ones felt they could be honest and not take the risk of driving impaired?
Some families have resolved this problem by making agreements, such as the following, with one another
- I can call at any hour if I am in need of a safe ride home.
- I will accept a call at any hour and agree to pick you up or arrange for a ride home (e.g., by taxi).
- I will be calm and not be angry if I receive such a call.
- Any discussions regarding the incident will be put off at least until the next day.
Medications or other drugs
Illegal drugs can also impair driving ability. But did you know that many prescriptions or over-the-counter medications can also impair driving ability? If someone you care about is taking a medication that can affect their ability to drive safely, consider offering to drive them while they are taking the medication.
Driver fatigue is another form of impairment and it can have disastrous consequences. Being tired is a leading cause of crashes. One in five traffic fatalities are caused by drivers who are drowsy or have fallen asleep. If someone you know is driving on a long trip, it’s a good idea to encourage them to take the time they need. Never put pressure on others to arrive by a certain day or time.