Celebrate at home, not on the road

The holidays are here, bringing with them family, fun and a dose of partying. It may be no surprise then that December is known as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2013, there were more than 10,076 fatal crashes that involved a driver with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.

There is good news: The number of fatal, alcohol involved crashes in the entire year of 2013 has declined from a high of 13,582 fatal accidents involving alcohol in 2005.

To remind individuals of the dangers involved in driving while impaired, the NHTSA launches a “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign each year, from December to January. The NHTSA reports that nearly 1,000 deaths occur because of impaired drivers during the month of December alone.

Although fatal crashes where drivers died have declined over the years, more drivers are impaired not by alcohol, but by other drugs. From 2006 to 2012, drug involvement in this type of crash increased six percentage points. Although the campaigns used to target drunken driving specifically, now that marijuana is legal in a handful of states, the campaigns have changed to target impaired driving as a whole, including driving after smoking marijuana or ingesting another drug.

For example, in May 2016, AAA reported that deadly crashes that occurred after drivers had used marijuana in Washington State doubled between 2013 and 2014.

These campaigns highlight the importance of making the right choices during the holiday season. If you’ve been out drinking, there are options: call a cab; get a ride with a sober friend; have a designated driver. There are always options that are better than getting into a car and driving after you’ve been drinking or partying for the holiday season.