The statistics are as familiar as they are depressing. According to MADD, every day in America, another 28 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes. In 2013, 10,076 people died in drunk driving crashes—one every 52 minutes—and 290,000 were injured in drunk driving crashes. According to MADD, one in six teens binge drinks, yet only 1 in 100 parents believe his or her teen binge drinks. Teen alcohol use kills 4,700 people each year—that's more than all illegal drugs combined. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and about a quarter of those crashes involve an underage drinking driver.
But the statistics don't do justice to the pain and loss suffered by drunk driving victims and their families—the parents who have lost children, husbands and wives who have lost their spouses, kids who have lost their parents.
So what are some things you can do to prevent drinking and driving? MADD suggests:
When drinking alcohol
- Be responsible.
- Choose a designated driver. Decide who's going to be doing the driving before you go out, and make sure that person doesn't drink any alcoholic beverages.
- Call a taxi. Sometimes even the designated driver slips. If nobody in your group is sober, take alternate transportation. Cab, train, bus, horse and buggy - anything's better than getting in the car with a drunk driver.
- Hide keys. Don't be afraid to take someone's car keys. If the person gets angry, it's probably proof you're doing the right thing.
When throwing a party
- Offer non-alcoholic beverages. Water, juice, soda pop—give your guests plenty of alternatives. And never pressure guests to drink alcohol.
- Serve plenty of food. A full stomach can slow the rate of alcohol absorption. Serve a great meal or have plenty of appetizers on hand.
- Stop serving alcohol well before the party ends. Give your guests an extra hour or two without alcohol before they head out the door.
- Arrange alternate transportation. Pay attention to your guests' alcohol intake and behavior. If someone has had a lot to drink or seems even the slightest bit tipsy, call a cab or set up a ride with a sober driver.
- Never serve minors.
Detecting drunk drivers
- Law enforcement officials say there are several signs associated with drunk driving:
- Making wide turns
- Weaving, swerving, drifting, or straddling the center line
- Almost striking an object or vehicle
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Driving at a very slow speed
- Stopping without cause
- Braking erratically
- Responding slowly to traffic signals
- Turning abruptly or illegally
- Driving after dark with headlights off
- Keeping these things in mind can help you avoid a dangerous situation. If you spot what you think is an impaired driver, keep a safe distance and call 9-1-1. Do not attempt to stop the vehicle yourself.
Learn more about drinking and driving laws in your state.
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The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under our policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.