Summer is synonymous with celebration. The long, warm days are filled with students on extended leave, vacations to sunny locales being planned and enjoyed, more sun-soaked outside activities than can be counted, and festive holiday gatherings in the beginning, middle and end of the season.
While savoring all of the sunshine, nearly all of these activities will include one common factor: in some way, alcohol and driving will be in the equation. Because of this, sadly the summer season obtains the most alcohol-related car accidents and DUI-related arrests of the entire year in the United States. However, with knowledge and prevention planning, it is possible to have a safe and enjoyable summer.
How to Prevent a DUI
There are many ways to prevent driving under the influence, yet, the most common problem is that even with a rough “plan” in place, once alcohol becomes consumed, objective reasoning is gone and therefore those “plans” are abandoned. The following are suggestions for how to celebrate with alcohol in the safest manner possible, with little to no planning:
- Designated Driver – The old tried-and-true method works: designating one person to stay sober and drive for the occasion is the surest way to ensure your safety. Not only will it significantly bring down the risk factor of an alcohol-related accident, but it will also eradicate the chance of a possible DUI-related arrest at a police checkpoint.
- Cab or Car Service – In our current age of technology, calling a taxi cab or car service could not be easier. For those with smartphones, there are even apps available that will allow you to order a car to your exact location in a short amount of time. If the designated driver plan fails, or you find yourself intoxicated and unable to drive, this is your next best choice. Allow for this option ahead of time and add the local taxi service phone number into your phone, as well as competitors if possible, for easy retrieval and to avoid being stranded if there is an influx of people in your area (particularly for group gatherings, holidays, etc.).
- Ask Ahead – In most cases partaking in summertime fun includes a group or a gathering. Prior to the fun, inquire who in the group might want to be a designated driver, or if someone is offering a place to recoup for those that indulge. By exploring your options, you can create a safe experience in which you can relax.
- “Just One” Does Not Always Work – Statistics show that people that have the intention of having just one drink among friends in a party or celebratory setting largely fail and imbibe more. This can lead to impaired judgment on the part of someone that did not have a backup plan and is over their legal limit to drive. Always take a small amount of time and create an alternate plan in the case that “just one” turns into more.
- Take the Keys Away – Sometimes preventing a DUI-related incident becomes more than just planning for you. There are also instances in which you might see a friend/acquaintance attempting to drive after drinking too much. In this scenario, it is always best to attempt to take their keys away and save them from the mistake of possibly putting themselves or someone else in harm’s way. If taking the keys becomes impossible, it might even be in their best interest to call law enforcement.
- Your Party, Your Responsibility – If you are the person hosting a gathering, it is your responsibility to ensure that every guest is safe leaving your home and has not consumed too much alcohol and attempting to drive. Make every event you host safe and enjoyable by offering overnight stays, and allowing guests to give you their keys upon arrival for safety purposes.
Dodging a Driver under the Influence
While you may have planned and created the safest summertime activities possible, you must be vigilant to the fact that there are others on the road that have not done so. To increase your safety, you need to be aware of how to avoid those that are not so conscientious:
- Avid Avoidance – Try to avoid any areas that are largely consumed by people that are mostly consuming alcohol and opt for a lesser populated area. This especially includes places where you know that DUI checkpoints are mandatory (this is a clear indication there are expected drunken drivers). If this is unavoidable, plan to arrive/leave during non-peak hours and use public transportation such as busses/trolleys/trains if possible and/or necessary.
- Exercise Extreme Caution – Whether it is day or night, during the summer there are likely to be impaired drivers on the road. Always exercise extreme caution when on the roadways and look out for drivers that are excessively speeding, going exceptionally slow, or are driving erratically. Make sure to give them plenty of space and steer clear of them.
- Call the Authorities – If you see a driver you suspect or know is under the influence, it is best to grab as much information as you can from the vehicle, i.e. make, model, license plate number, and drive to a stopping point and call the local police department. It is likely that driver will injure themselves or someone else on the way to their destination and it is safest for you and the drivers around you that the suspected person is taken off of the road and questioned by the authorities.
While summer is an amazing time to gather with friends and family, absorb the rays and partake in long-standing American traditions such as baseball, BBQ’s, beaches, bonfires, bashes and baking in the sun, it is important to remember that safety is paramount. Protect yourself, your loved ones, and everyone else celebrating the season, and plan for a safe as well as fun time.