With the end of the year fast approaching, many across the U.S. are gearing up for holiday and New Year’s festivities. While many of these celebrations are likely to be incredibly different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is unlikely to change – the consumption of alcohol. With an increase in drinking during the holiday season, it’s important that drivers remain aware of the dangers that come with drinking and driving. In fact, this year Texas and several other states have been awarded grants in order to assist in the prevention of holiday drunk driving.
States Receive Federal Grants to Promote Safe Holiday Driving
As many across the nation prepare for a pandemic holiday season, several states have received grants to help prevent holiday drunk driving. Given out by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), $100,000 in grant funds were awarded to State Highway Safety Offices in Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Texas.
In its third year, this federal grant program encourages drivers who consume alcohol and other substances to utilize ridesharing services rather than put themselves and countless others at risk. This is especially important in 2020, after the release of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) preliminary fatality estimates for the first half of the year. While the data showed traffic volume to be down significantly due to the pandemic, vehicle fatalities were largely unchanged.
In fact, according to the NHTSA, those who got behind the wheel during this time were also more likely to engage in riskier behaviors like speeding, impaired driving, and failing to wear a seatbelt. NHTSA also examined injury data collected at five different trauma centers during this time and found over half of the drivers involved tested positive for alcohol, marijuana, and/or opioids.
Avoid Holiday Drunk Driving
While drinking alcohol can be incredibly enticing during the holiday season, drivers must be vigilant to ensure safe traveling, including employing the following measures:
HAVE A DESIGNATED DRIVER
When making plans for a smaller, pandemic-friendly gathering with friends or family this year, those who plan on drinking should have a designated driver. Designated drivers are non-drinkers who will ensure everyone gets home safely. In the event a designated driver does have a few drinks, it’s best to err on the side of caution and get a ride home through a ridesharing service or taxi.
STAY WITH FAMILY OR FRIENDS
When making holiday plans, those who plan on drinking should see if they can stay the night with a friend or family members they may be celebrating with. Those hosting should have a plan for guests who may need to stay on their couch or in a guest room. It is also helpful if hosts stop serving alcohol an hour or two before the party ends to ensure guests aren’t tempted to have another drink for the road.
At a holiday event, hosts should be sure to include a variety of food and drink options, including those that are alcohol free to avoid pressuring others into drinking alcohol. Guests should never feel pressured to drink if they don’t want to.
AVOID DRIVING ALTOGETHER
While it may be tempting to go out with friends and family this holiday season, the overall safety of loved ones is most important – especially when considering the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many will have plans to go out and enjoy a few drinks this year, those that do should try to avoid getting behind the wheel by having a designated driver or staying with loved ones, as mentioned above.
Opting for virtual celebrations is another pandemic-friendly alternative. Scheduling a Skype or Zoom call with friends and family for a virtual holiday party is a foolproof way to help ensure everyone stays safe. As everyone will be in their own homes for these specific celebrations, there should be no reason for guests to imbibe and then get behind the wheel.
Keeping Houston Drivers Safe During the Holidays
At Ramsey Law Group, we know the consequences of drunk driving firsthand and how it can impact others. There is no excuse for driving under the influence, and those who choose to should be held accountable for their actions. If you or someone you know has been injured by a drunk or impaired driver, contact the Houston personal injury attorneys at Ramsey Law Group today so we can help.