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December is National Impaired Driving Prevention month

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- U.S. President Barack Obama demonstrated his commitment to preventing impaired driving by proclaiming December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month Dec. 1. In signing this proclamation, President Obama urged all Americans to make responsible decisions, and take appropriate measures, to prevent drunk, drugged and distracted driving.

Reducing the incidence of impaired driving requires a comprehensive approach, while recognizing that every community faces different challenges. Some states and communities will be increasing enforcement of impaired driving laws through sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols.

To further highlight the importance of driving free from the influence of alcohol and drugs, consider the following facts from the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 2008 report:

· Alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 45 minutes. Drivers are considered to be alcohol-impaired when their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams per deciliter or higher. Thus, any fatality occurring in a crash involving a driver with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher is considered to be an alcohol-impaired-driving fatality. The term "driver" refers to the operator of any motor vehicle, including a motorcycle. It is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

· During 2008, 11,773 people in the U.S. died in alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crashes, representing 32 percent of all traffic-related deaths.

· The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes was four times higher at night (36 percent) than during the day (nine percent). Fifteen percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes during the week were alcohol-impaired, compared to 32 percent on weekends.

· Nearly half (46 percent) of the 216 child passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-impaired crashes were riding with the drinking driver.

· Thirty-four children age 14 years and younger who were killed as pedestrians or cyclists were struck by impaired drivers with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher.

· Among drivers involved in fatal crashes, those with BAC levels of 0.08 percent or higher were eight times more likely to have a prior conviction for driving while impaired than were drivers with no alcohol.

· In fatal crashes, the highest percentage of drivers with a BAC level of 0.08 percent or higher was for drivers ages 21 to 24 (34 percent), followed by ages 25 to 34 (31 percent) and 35 to 44 (25 percent).

· Eighty-four percent of the 13,029 drivers with a BAC of 0.01 percent or higher who were involved in fatal crashes had BAC levels at or above 0.08 percent; and 57 percent had BAC levels at or above 0.15 percent. The most frequently recorded BAC level among drinking drivers in fatal crashes was 0.16 percent.

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

· Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;

· 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;

· If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement, and;

· 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.

To assist Hurlburt Field commanders, first sergeants, leaders and supervisors in promoting responsible alcohol use, the Hurlburt Field Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment 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 881-4237. 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.