St. Lawrence County traffic safety expert warns about drinking and driving this weekend
Friday, December 29, 2017 - 5:21 pm

St. Lawrence County traffic safety specialist Mary Davison is asking people if they will be driving to “think hard about their alcohol use” over the New Year’s weekend.

“During the holiday season most of us spend a lot of time at social gatherings. Whether you are planning host your own celebration, or attending parties with family, friends or colleagues, it’s important to keep safety in mind,” Davison said in a news release.

Whenever alcohol is involved, the potential for traffic collisions increases, she said. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 28 percent of the fatalities in 2016 were related to a driver with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit of .08 percent. That same year, 781 people lost their lives in the U.S. during December alone.

“If you are hosting a party, consider having an alcohol-free celebration,” Davison said in the release. “If you do choose to serve alcohol, you should plan ahead for safe rides home for your guests. This includes those who arrive at your party after they have already been drinking.”

If there are transportation alternatives such as local taxis or ride services available, the host should have their numbers keyed into the phone, and, if necessary, be prepared to pay for fare. They may even consider having guests stay overnight.

Avoid serving “spiked” beverages from a punch bowl or other source that is difficult to supervise, Davison suggests.

“It’s a good idea to have a responsible (and sober) person in charge of serving drinks. He or she can monitor who is drinking and how much alcohol a person has consumed. You should serve non-alcoholic beverages to guests who will provide rides or who prefer not to drink alcohol. Since even small amounts of alcohol can affect driving skills, designated drivers should not drink any alcoholic beverages before getting behind the wheel. Hosts should also limit their own alcohol intake so they are clear-headed if an incident occurs,” Davison said in the statement.

Although many party guides advise hosts to provide food and/or coffee, it is important to note that neither food nor caffeine can help to sober up someone who has been drinking. It takes time—at least one hour—to clear the alcohol from one standard drink. Only time can make a person sober, said Davison.