Driving the “Drive Sober” Message Home at Holiday Time
With Christmas and New Year’s celebrations coming up, officials, agencies and groups are urging people to drive sober, and they are offering suggestions and tips to help get the word out. The BACCHUS Network, for one, has many ideas that educators can use to drive the message to driving-age students.
BACCHUS suggests having a holiday pledge for students to sign, saying they will not drink and drive, not let friends drink and drive, refuse to drive with an impaired driver, and always wear a seatbelt. The group suggests schools develop their own pledges, or use the following one:
This holiday season, I give my friends and myself the gift of life. I pledge to not drink and drive, ride with an impaired driver, let my friends drink and drive or ride with an impaired driver, and to always wear my seatbelt.
Schools can also set up “awareness” tables in high-traffic areas around campus (in the case of colleges) or elsewhere (in high schools), that serve hot chocolate and ask students to sign the pledge.
The pledge can be printed on paper holiday tree decorations, and once students sign the pledges they can hang them on the holiday trees in student centers, dining halls, and/or resident halls. Another idea is to print up postcards that have holiday or winter themes with the pledges on them. Have the students sign the cards and put their home addresses on them. The school can mail them to arrive during mid-break, just before New Year’s Eve.
Candy canes can be labeled with such messages as “Have a happy and safe holiday break: always designate a sober driver” or “Remember to designate your substance-free designated driver before going out to celebrate this holiday.” Schools can hand out the candy canes wherever students gather.
Schools can decorate or have students decorate small gift boxes, and place pledges inside the boxes to saying the person giving the gift agrees to be a sober driver for the friend to help them arrive home safely after holiday parties. Students can give them as holiday gifts.
Administrators can provide local bars and restaurants with business-sized cards that list phone numbers for safe rides, taxis, and public transportation to give to customers before they leave.
Schools can also give out Sober Designated Driver bracelets, which make very inexpensive stocking stuffers, just 40 cents each.
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says:
Although in 2011 we saw the lowest number of roadway deaths in six decades, we’re still stuck with the fact that one in every three highway fatalities last year — 9,878 in total — was alcohol-related. And in the last two weeks of December 2011 alone, 395 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes.
Each of these deaths is one too many, and it simply has to stop.
LaHood urges drivers not to drive if they will be drinking, and to arrange another way to get home. If you do become impaired, find another way to get where you are going, via a taxi, a sober friend or family member, via public transportation, or through your local sober ride program, he writes. LaHood asks everyone to be responsible, and not let an impaired person get behind the wheel. “If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement as soon as you can.” Your actions can save someone’s life.