Autumn means football, tailgating and enjoying happy hour at a favorite local restaurant. The CHP would like to make sure you do it safely.
The CHP sees an increase in driving under the influence arrests and DUI-related collisions in the fall. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 28 lives are lost in the United States every day in alcohol-related collisions; that’s one person every 51 minutes. These deaths and the damages caused by these collisions contribute to a cost of $52 billion per year.
In 2014, while on patrol, I was broadsided by an impaired driver. Literally, in the blink of an eye, my world was changed. Being involved in a traffic collision is a traumatizing experience, but nearly losing your life at the hands of a DUI driver is an experience I hope no one has to live through. I now take great comfort in sharing my story and the impact it had on me.
So how can you prevent being impacted by a DUI collision? The answer is have a game plan. By now we have all heard the phrase, “Don’t hesitate to designate.” But do we understand what it means? Make no mistake, the designated driver is the difference between life and death. So when it’s your turn to be the designated driver, are you prepared for the responsibility?
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Here’s tips on what to do when it’s your turn to be the responsible one:
▪ It begins with a pledge to say “No” to consuming alcoholic beverages! Although just one drink may not put you over the legal limit, it can impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle. One drink can quickly lead to a second, and then a third; so just say no!
▪ Take the keys before the drinking begins. Doing this will quickly highlight the importance of your role for the night.
▪ Plan ahead. Know how many people you’ll be responsible for and only allow the correct amount of passengers for your vehicle. Adding more passengers than there are seat belts is not only illegal, it’s hazardous in the event of a traffic collision.
▪ Know your vehicle. As the designated driver, it’s likely you may be driving someone else’s vehicle. If so, get to know the vehicle before the drinking begins. Asking simple questions – like how to activate headlights – to someone intoxicated is much more complicated than you think.
▪ Limit your distractions. Driving intoxicated passengers can be incredibly distracting in itself, so it’s always a good idea to eliminate all other distractions while behind the wheel, such as listening to the radio too loudly and accessing your cell phone while driving.
▪ Be vigilant. When walking to your vehicle and traveling to your destination, always be aware of your surroundings.
In the event something occurs and you do not feel safe to drive everyone home, there are several options. Ride-sharing has become hugely popular, and it’s quite easy to utilize. Simply contact companies like Uber or Lyft and sign up for their services. There is also public transportation and the taxi option.
As always, the CHP will continue to maintain an active enforcement effort directed toward the detection and apprehension of persons who may be under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or medications.
We are calling upon you to make a difference. So the next time you find yourself planning a weekend of fun, please make the right choice and don’t hesitate to designate!