CHARLESTON, WV – The holidays are a time for family gatherings and festivities with friends. These celebrations mean good food, shared memories, camaraderie, and for some, a few too many drinks. Sadly, 29 percent, or 10,874, of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2017 involved drunk drivers, and 885 of those deaths occurred in December alone.
This holiday season, the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program (GHSP) is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) this holiday season to remind all drivers about the dangers of drinking and driving.
With holiday festivities and office parties taking place, it’s essential to plan a sober ride home before ever leaving for the event. So this holiday season, as you head out for a night of merry-making, remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. Law enforcement officers in West Virginia will be targeting impaired drivers in an effort to keep everyone on our roadways safe.
“The holidays are a time of celebration. But we urge everyone to use extra caution on our roads during this time of year,” said Bob Tipton, GHSP Director. “Many holiday events include alcohol, and this contributes to the number of impaired drivers on our roadways. Help us spread the message: Even one drink is one drink too many. If you feel buzzed, you are already drunk.”
Drunk driving isn’t the only risk on the road: Drug-impaired driving is also an increasing problem on our state’s roads. If drivers are impaired by any substance—alcohol or drugs—they should not get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Driving while impaired is illegal, period. The bottom line is this: If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. It’s that simple.
Drinking and driving should never be combined. It’s essential to plan a sober ride in advance if the holiday celebration will include alcohol. The alternative could change your life, not to mention the lives of your passengers, of pedestrians, or of other drivers and passengers nearby.
“We want to keep our roads safe this holiday season and help people understand that the only time they should be behind the wheel is when they are sober,” said Tipton. “It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, or how much you weigh; alcohol affects everyone differently. You do not have to be feeling or acting drunk to be too impaired to drive.”
The GHSP and NHTSA urge drivers to designate a sober driver before heading out for the evening. If you plan on drinking, plan on not driving.
Party with a Plan
First and foremost: Plan ahead. Be honest with yourself: You know whether you’ll attend a party. If you plan to drink, plan for a sober driver to take you home. Is it your turn to be the designated driver? Take that role seriously—your friends are relying on you.
- Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.
- Use your community’s sober ride program.
- If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.
- Have a friend who is about to drink and drive? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
Remember to play it safe this holiday season and always plan your sober ride before the festivities begin. If you are buzzed, do not drive. If you fail to heed this advice, law enforcement officers will be looking specifically for impaired drivers. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
For more information about the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety Program, visit www.dmv.gov/ghsp or call 304-926-2509.