Each year, nearly 10,000 people are killed in drunk driving crashes. The risk of sharing the road with a drunk driver is even higher on holidays like New Year’s, because of parties and get-togethers. In fact, New Year’s Day is the most dangerous day of the year for drunk driving on our nation’s roadways.
Let’s work together to make this holiday, and every day, safe for everyone traveling. Please use these tips to plan a safe New Year’s celebration for everyone:
- Designate a sober driver to make sure you—and everyone with you—arrive home safely this holiday season.
- Save the number of a local cab service in your phone prior to heading out.
- Consider hiring a shuttle or limousine service to transport you and your friends to and from your event.
- Arrange a hotel stay for you and your friends on the evening of the event so no one drives home impaired.
Planning a party?
- Plan activities like party games or door prizes. Planned activities engage people, make for less active consumption of alcohol, and ensure that your friends remember the great event long after the last piece of confetti has settled.
- As guests RSVP, confirm that at least one person in each group is prepared to be the sober designated driver and/or has a plan to get home.
- Provide plenty of food to keep your guests from drinking on an empty stomach.
- Avoid too many salty snacks, which tend to make people thirsty and drink more.
- Offer non-alcoholic beverages or “mocktails” for designated drivers and others who prefer not to drink alcohol.
- If preparing an alcoholic punch, use a non-carbonated base, like fruit juice. Alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream faster with a carbonated base.
- Be prepared by having the number of a taxi service on hand for those who need a ride. Also, be ready with some clean linens so you can turn your sofa into a bed for guests who need to sleep it off.
Wishing you a safe and happy New Year’s!
Watch Dateline NBC ‘Holiday Survival’ special about what to do when someone tries to drive after they've been drinking:
The best way to prevent someone from driving drunk is to make a plan for a sober designated driver, and make sure everyone agrees to it ahead of time. If you are faced with a situation where someone who’s impaired is trying to drive, here are some tips on how to stop them:
- Be as non-confrontational as possible.
- Suggest alternate ways of getting to their destination — a cab, a sober driver, public transportation.
- Remember that the person you are talking to is impaired — talk a bit more slowly and explain things more fully than if you were speaking to a sober person.
- Explain that you don’t want them to drive because you care and you don’t want them to hurt themselves or others.
- Suggest that they sleep over.
- Enlist a friend to help you or to act as moral support — it’s more difficult to say “no” to two (or three or four) people than one.
- If possible, get the person’s keys. It is far easier to persuade the potential driver when you hold this leverage.
- If all else fails, call law enforcement. It’s better to have a friend arrested than injured or killed.
Early morning on New Year’s Day in 2010, 21-year-old Elaina Luquis-Ortiz received a call from a friend who got a flat tire on the interstate. Elaina was in the process of selling the car to her friend, and since the insurance policy was still in her name, she thought it would be best if she met up with them to see if she could help.
The three were sitting in Elaina’s car on the shoulder of the freeway, waiting for the tow truck to arrive, when a drunk driver with a BAC more than three times the legal limit crashed into them. Elaina died at the scene and her two friends were transported to the hospital with major injuries.
Elaina was six months pregnant with her first child, Romeo. He also did not survive.
Elaina was so excited to become a mom. She had proudly posted ultrasound photos of Romeo on her MySpace page. But instead of a baby shower, Elaina’s family had to plan her funeral.
This holiday season, we remember Elaina, Romeo, and the thousands of others who are killed and injured every year by this 100% preventable crime.
We have our sites set high for 2013, and plan to make great progress with the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®, but we need your help to succeed. You can help save lives and serve victims in 2013 with your holiday gift to MADD today.
This holiday season, I am celebrating my wonderful family and friends, and the incredible progress we've made together this year. For the first time in history, drunk driving deaths have fallen below 10,000, and we could not have done that without your help—your support, your donations, your time spent volunteering, your emails and phone calls to legislators, your participation in Walk Like MADD and other events, and even your Facebook shares and re-tweets!
To show my thanks, I want to share with you a special Holiday video message.
Thanks to you, each year we save more lives, serve more victims and bring awareness to the dangers of drunk driving and underage drinking.
We know that there is still much work to be done and we won’t stop until there are no more drunk driving deaths. I hope that you’ll stand with us until we achieve that goal.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all that you do for MADD, and happy holidays!
MADD National President