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Stay safe this holiday season
Health advice
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Is your holiday calendar full this year? Do you have several parties lined up and will you be doing much traveling to get home from these events?
This article is probably not going to tell you much you don’t already know. But it will, hopefully, reinforce important information and safety tips that will keep you, your family and other drivers safe during this holiday season.
On an average day, 45 people die in alcohol-related traffic crashes but this statistic significantly increases during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day time period. Thirty-nine percent of all traffic accidents occur during this time and the only holiday with worst statistics is the Fourth of July.
The three most critical skills necessary for safe driving — judgment, vision and reaction — are critically impaired when partygoers mix alcohol and driving. This is possible even when blood alcohol levels are well below the legal limit.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, during the past 10 years, alcohol-related crashes killed an estimated 170,000 people and injured nearly five million others at a cost to taxpayers and the economy of nearly $500 billion. At this rate, one of three Americans can expect to be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime.
Drunk driving is a crime, a crime that occurs because a person elects to make irresponsible choices, including taking a drink, drinking to impaired levels and then driving while impaired.
Alcohol has different effects on different people at different times. These differences depend on things such as what a person has eaten (or not eaten), their level of fatigue, metabolism or mood. Drunk driving is not an accident — it’s a conscious choice!
Some people mistakenly believe drinking one type of alcohol is better than another. The truth is, 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine and a 1-1/2 ounce shot of liquor all have about the same amount of alcohol.
Normally, the body eliminates alcohol at a rate of about one drink per hour, but partygoers who stand around and drink often take in more alcohol than they realize thus making it hard for the body to eliminate it at that level.
December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. Listed below are some tips to keep you and others safe during the Holidays:
• Don’t drink alcohol if you are going to drive.   
• If you plan to drink, designate a non-drinking driver ahead of time or take a cab or make reservations at a nearby inn and spend the night. Remember to consume food, sip drinks and alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic beverages. Don’t ride with anyone who has been drinking to the point of impairment.
• If you’re the designated driver, make sure everyone is buckled up and be a defensive, alert driver. Report suspected drunk drivers to law enforcement.
The following may be indications that a driver is drunk: weaving, nearly striking a vehicle or object, swerving, unusually wide turns, slow response to traffic signals, driving without headlights at night, stopping for no apparent reason, driving well below the speed limit, driving the wrong way on one-way, accelerating or varying speed for no reason or in opposing lanes           
• If hosting a party where alcohol is being served, check with drinking guest to see if they have a designated driver. Don’t let impaired guests drive — arrange for rides for guests who appear impaired.
Serve a variety of food and include non-alcoholic beverages. Arrange for one person to serve as bartender so they can control the number of drinks and amount of alcohol in each drink. Stop serving alcohol 60 to 90 minutes before the party is over. Provide non-alcoholic drinks, coffee and dessert instead.    
• The use of some drugs while drinking alcohol can have dangerous effects. Alcoholic beverage drinkers should ask their doctor about side effects if they use prescription medicines or get allergy shots. They should also read the information on the package of any over-the-counter medicine including allergy and cold remedies.
• Fatigue and stress will also affect your driving and may make a little alcohol appear more potent.
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