Celebrate Safely this Holiday Season – Drink Responsibly Published Dec. 5, 2023 By Greg Chadwick Air Force Materiel Command Health and Wellness Team WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Practice safe behavior during holiday celebrations. (Graphic courtesy of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res But a combination of good cheer and abundant alcohol can take the fun too far, and the long weekends of Christmas and New Year’s Day can lead to regrettable decisions. Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol can have real life consequences, particularly during the holidays when there are more drivers on the road, many of them heading to or from celebrations. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased from 11,718 in 2020 to 13,384 in 2021 (14% increase). This accounted for 31% of all traffic fatalities in the United States for the year. These deaths were all preventable. “The best way to prevent alcohol-impaired driving is to never drive after any drinking,” said Steven Callon, AFMC’s Drug Demand Reduction Program Manager. “Your life and the lives of others on the road are at risk every time a driver gets behind the wheel after drinking.” Callon states that when your holiday activities involve alcohol, be responsible and have a plan. He offers these tips from the NHTSA to stay safe: Always plan your safe ride home before you go out, choose a non-drinking friend as a designated driver. If you do not have a designated driver, schedule a ride sharing, ride-hailing or taxi service. If you are hosting a party where alcohol is served, offer non-alcoholic drink options, and make sure all guests leave with a sober driver. If someone you know has been drinking, do not let them drive. Take their keys and arrange a sober ride home for them or have them stay for the night. Always wear your seat belt – it is the best defense against impaired drivers. If you see an impaired driver on the road, safely pull over and call law enforcement. Your actions could help save someone’s life. Bottom-line: Before you celebrate, plan ahead and then follow through on the plan. Never get into a car with an impaired driver or allow your friends to drive under the influence. Have a safe holiday season! For more information on alcohol’s effects on human health and well-being, visit: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.