CHEMICAL DEPENDENCY: PREVENT DRUNK DRIVING
If you care enough, you can help prevent drunk driving. You may not think that drunk driving is a problem that affects you. But, we all share the road with drunk drivers, those persons who are driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. About two out of every five of us will be involved in an alcohol-related vehicle accident. In fact, more than 50 percent of all fatal accidents are alcohol-related. Across the USA, drunk driving kills 22 000 of us every year. You, your family or your friends could be the next drunk driving victims. But you can make a difference. You can learn how to use techniques to keep yourself and those you care about from becoming drunk drivers. Even if it means taking someone's keys away, you can prevent drunk driving and save a life.Alcohol Impairs Driving
Even small amounts of alcohol impair driving ability. In your body, alcohol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. The liver is able to break down the alcohol at a rate of about 28 grams per hour. Alcohol in excess of that amount stays in the bloodstream and affects these brain functions involved in driving: Judgment - Alcohol alters your perception. It makes you over-confidant and encourages you to take reckless chances. Coordination - Your reaction time and ability to perform multiple tasks decrease with alcohol. Vision - Alcohol decreases your pupil reaction time, depth perception and peripheral vision.Help Yourself
There are many things you can do to help yourself avoid drunk driving:
Eat - Food slows the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.
Pace drinks - Don't drink more than one drink an hour if you're driving.
Sip, don't gulp - It's okay to "nurse" your drinks.
Set a limit - Determine how many drinks you'll have and stick with it.
Designate a driver - Have someone stay sober and drive.
Taper off - Remember, it takes time to recover from the effects of alcohol.
Don't mix drugs - Even over-the-counter drugs can react adversely with alcohol.
If you drink too much, give your keys to a non-drinker, catch a ride or take public transportation home, or sleep over.Help Others
When you entertain, there are many things you can do to prevent your guests from driving drunk.
Use a bartender - A bartender can measure drinks and "cut off" those who indulge too much.
Serve food - Food slows alcohol absorption.
Offer non-alcoholic beverages - Serve interesting non-alcoholic drinks.
Encourage conversation and activities - Give your guests something to do besides drink.
Close the bar early - Offer "last call" well before the party ends.
Watch for intoxication - Whether you give or attend a party, if guests drink too much, give them a ride, call a cab, offer them a place to stay and take their keys if necessary. DON'T LET THEM DRIVE DRUNK.Marijuana
Many people mistakenly believe driving under the influence of marijuana is safer than driving on alcohol. But marijuana significantly slows your reaction time, decreases your ability to judge speed and distance and impairs your condition. It also decreases your visual acuity. The effects may last 4-10 hours, even after the feeling of being "high" is gone.Tranquillisers / Sedatives
Tranquillisers and sedatives are both depressants that dull the central nervous system. They are used to relieve anxiety and induce sleep. Even small amounts of these drugs slow reaction time, decrease eye-hand coordination and interfere with judgment. Alcohol greatly increases the effects and can cause a potentially fatal overdose.Cocaine / Amphetamines
Like alcohol, cocaine and amphetamines ("speed") make you feel more competent to drive than you actually are. Both drugs decrease judgment and increase aggressiveness; thus, they may trigger dangerous reactions to other drivers. Repeated use causes edginess and decreases coordination. Adverse effects increase when mixed with alcohol.Sobering Myths and Facts
There are many myths surrounding driving under the influence of alcohol. If you believe the alcohol/driving myths, you may allow yourself or someone else to drive while impaired. Know the facts to prevent drunk driving.
Myth: I drive better when I've had a few drinks.
Fact: Alcohol alters your perception and makes you feel more competent, but it impairs your ability to perform complex tasks like driving.
Myth: I just need a little coffee to sober me up.
Fact: Coffee (a cold shower, exercise, breathing pure oxygen etc.) doesn't have a sobering effect. Only time can decrease intoxication.
Myth: I only drink beer. Beer won't affect my driving.
Fact: Beer may fill you up more than wine or hard liquor, but a glass of beer has the same alcohol as a glass of wine or a mixed drink.
Myth: If I've only had a couple, I can drive just fine.
Fact: Even a small amount of alcohol affects the brain's higher functions, particularly judgement, coordination and vision.Resources
If you want more information about drunk driving or want to get involved in an anti-drunk driving group, contact the various resources and local support groups for alcoholism and safe driving.Care Enough
Care enough to prevent yourself, your family members and your friends from driving drunk. Make it your rule NEVER to let a drunk drive. Your caring can make a difference. The life you save may be your own or someone you love.