December is known as the merriest of months here in the United States.
But, December is also known as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.
We now annually raise awareness during this month due to some alarming statistics compiled by numerous anti-drug abuse and drug control organizations, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
- In an average year, 30 million Americans drive drunk, and 10 million Americans drive impaired by illicit drugs. (NCADD). - Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 51 minutes. (CDC) - In 2013, 9.9 million people (3.8 percent of the population) reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs. This was highest among Millennials (SAMHSA) - Fifty-seven percent of fatally injured drivers had alcohol and/or other drugs in their system, and 17 percent had both. (MADD)
No one should suffer the tragedy of losing someone as a result of drunk, drugged or distracted driving.
For far too long, the danger of impaired driving has robbed people of the comfort of knowing that if their loved ones leave home, they will return safely.
Impaired driving puts drivers, passengers and pedestrians at risk, and each year, it claims the lives of thousands of Americans.
This is pretty startling if you ask me.
You'd think the apparent dangers of operating high-speed machinery under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs would at least warrant a self-explanatory, "This is a bad idea" response within the common sense portion of the brain.
But according to these stats, that's not always the case.
I think the impaired driving issue has become so prominent not due to the ignorance or complete disregard of the dangers by most American drivers, but rather because many people have a firm belief they can tell when they're too buzzed to drive.
Therefore, they think it's not really a big deal.
Here are the reasons why you're not king of the road when you're impaired, even if you're absolutely sure you are:
1. As you've heard before, "Buzzed driving is drunk driving."
So keep that in mind the next time you're feeling good about driving drunk.
BAC doesn't lie, but your drunken judgement does.
2. The wheel isn't as steady as you think.
When you think about it, it's next to impossible to really keep anything straight when you're drunk, fellas.
3. Your reaction time is skewed.
Do you remember that scene from "The Wolf of Wall Street" when Leo's character was trashed on quaaludes and thought he was driving like a Grand Prix champion, but he really wasn't at all?
That's you when you drive impaired.
4. It's quota season.
December is National Impaired Driving Prevention month, but it also feels like National Get Pulled Over Month.
A lot of police departments won't readily admit there is a fixed arrest or ticket quota.
The very notion is controversial, to say the least.
However, a lot of departments will admit there are "performance goals" for officers.
Regardless of the proper semantics for this phenomena, it doesn't change the fact impaired driving-related deaths regularly spike during the holiday season.
So, the extra enforcement on the roads is necessary.
To make matters simple, impaired drivers should just stay away from the wheel to avoid this ugliness altogether.
5. Don't ever think you're too good to get caught slipping.
I remember being picked up by a friend one night.
We were driving for miles at full speed on some windy roads.
Halfway to our destination, he turned his head toward me and nonchalantly uttered, "By the way, I'm totally wasted right now."
I was taken aback because he was driving within the lines, and I hadn't suspected a thing.
Well, neither did the police.
We made it to our destination, and we were fine.
Getting "good" at drunk driving is a deadly and slippery slope.
Maybe we were fine that one time, but who's to say he wouldn't have gotten a DUI or killed us both the next time?
Statistically, he could have been arrested, or we could have died.
It's just not worth it.
I feel like a lot of people experience this once or maybe even several times during their drug and alcohol indulging careers.
This slowly builds misguided confidence in their ability to operate the wheel impaired.
Some even become brazenly proud of it, like my friend was.
Nevertheless, no matter how "good" you think you are, it should never obscure your better judgement.
Don’t drive when you know you've had a few (or smoked or popped a few).
6. Driving under the influence of marijuana is also bad.
I've noticed that people who partake in drunk driving are usually too ashamed to admit it, due to being scrutinized among their peers for doing so.
On the other hand, I've come to find driving on pot is not met with such scrutiny.
Such activities like "bowl cruising" and "hot boxing" were always considered a cool thing to do when I was younger.
I think this is partly due to the fact we have plenty of organizations, PSAs and rhetoric denouncing drunk driving, but not nearly enough on driving under the influencing of marijuana.
A lot of people simply think it's not as bad.
In Colorado, since marijuana was legalized, marijuana traffic-related deaths have nearly doubled.
I think there should be more awareness regarding the dangers of driving high, and it should definitely be more vocalized and advertised the way drunk driving is.
7. Don't bet your life on it.
Most importantly, your false confidence in your ability of being a decent impaired driver is not worth yours, or anyone else's, life.
So remember: If you think you're good under the influence, chances are, you're probably not.
Be safe this holiday season, and always remember to use Uber if you drink.