National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

  • Published
  • By Earl Rivers
  • 1st Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron
The holidays are a wonderful time of year, filled with celebrations, time with loved ones and good cheer. But, for the 775 families whose loved ones were killed during December 2010 in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, the joyous celebrations ended in disaster.

Throughout the United States, local communities will observe National Impaired Driving Prevention Month during December. One of the vital goals of this nation-wide endeavor is to urge all Americans to make responsible decisions and take appropriate measures to prevent drunk, drugged and distracted driving.

"Drinking and driving is never a good combination and it's just not worth the risk," said Lieutenant Commander Sean Bennett, 1st Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron Alcohol & Drug Abuse Prevention & Treatment Program manager. "Driving a vehicle or operating a motorcycle while intoxicated jeopardizes your safety and the safety of others on our roads. If you are going to drink, plan a safe way home before the celebration begins and encourage your friends and family to do the same."

In the United States, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes which accounted for 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths in 2010. These drivers had blood alcohol concentrations of at least 0.08 percent. Also, most alcohol-impaired drivers binge drink. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person's blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 percent or above. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks and women consume four or more drinks in about two hours.

Fortunately, most Americans make responsible decisions regarding alcohol use. In 2010, the NIAAA reported 7 in 10 U.S. adults always drink within "low-risk" limits or do not drink at all. Specifically, 37 percent always drink within low-risk limits and 35 percent never drink alcohol. For men, low-risk drinking is no more than 4 drinks on any day and no more than 14 drinks per week. For women, low-risk drinking is no more than 3 drinks on any day and no more than 7 drinks per week. A "standard" drink contains about 0.6 ounces or 14 grams of "pure" alcohol. (e.g., 12 oz of regular beer; 8 oz of malt liquor; 5 oz of table wine; 1.5 oz shot of 80-proof spirits).

Additionally, this NIAAA report revealed 28 percent of adults drink at "heavy" or "at-risk" levels. For healthy adults in general, "heavy" or "at-risk" drinking is men consuming more than 4 drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week; and women consuming more than 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week. Nineteen percent of adults are at increased-risk for developing alcohol-related problems because they drink more than either the single-day limits or the weekly limits. And, 9 percent of adults are at highest-risk because they drink more than both the single-day limits and the weekly limits.

Following these easy steps, a driver can enjoy a safe and festive holiday without jeopardizing their life and the lives of others who may be on the road:

· Plan a safe way home before the party begins.

· Before drinking, please designate a sober driver and give that person your keys.

· If impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to get home safely.

· Use your community's sober rides programs, like Airman Against Drunk Driving.

· If you happen to see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.

· Remember, if you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, or ride with an impaired driver, take their keys and help them make other arrangements.

"The holidays should be a time for celebration, not tragedy," LCDR Bennett said. "Please help us make our roadways safe by never driving after drinking."

To assist Hurlburt Field commanders, first sergeants, leaders and supervisors in promoting responsible alcohol use, the Hurlburt Field ADAPT Program provides a wide range of services to active-duty members. The ADAPT Program is located on the second floor of the Hurlburt Main Clinic and the staff can be reached at DSN 641-4237. Family members of active duty should contact TriCare-partner Value Options at (800) 700-8646 for information and assistance in obtaining substance abuse evaluation and treatment services.