Drunk driving becomes more common during the holidays, causing thousands of people to either lose their lives or suffer injuries during what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year. For over 30 years, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has promoted safer driving during the holiday season with their “Tie One On For Safety” program.

MADD’s most visible public awareness campaign focuses on eliminating the crime of drunk driving. The program launches in November and lasts until the end of the holiday season. MADD encourages you and your family to get involved in the project and learn more about the dangers of drinking and driving.

How Can I Get Involved in the Tie One On For Safety Campaign?

The phrase, “tie one on” refers to drinking alcohol, and MADD uses it to draw attention to the dangers of drunk driving. To help increase awareness and keep you and your loved ones safe this holiday season, consider doing the following:

  • Display a Red Ribbon – MADD red ribbons, magnets, and window decals are available through your local MADD office. Put yours in a visible location on your vehicle to show your commitment to the cause. You can also post a virtual red ribbon on Facebook and spread awareness on social media.
  • Designate a Driver – If you are planning to drive, the safest option is to not drink at all. Before you go out for the evening, find a designated driver who will stay sober and make sure you and your group gets home safely. Encourage others to do the same.
  • Find Another Way Home – Have a backup plan in case your designated driver cannot take you home at the end of the night. Download a rideshare app on your phone (e.g. Uber, Lyft) or have phone numbers for a couple of local taxicab companies. Do not get in the car with a driver who has been drinking.
  • Be a Good Host – If you are the host for the evening, have non-alcoholic options available for designated drivers and people who do not want to drink. Towards the end of the night, check in with guests and make sure they have plans to get home safely and stop serving alcohol an hour or two before the end of the party. If you notice that someone is drunk and wants to drive, find them a place to stay or provide another way for them to get home.

Why During the Holidays?

MADD runs the “Tie One On” project from November until after New Years because of the increase in drunk driving during the holiday season. “Blackout Wednesday,” or the night before Thanksgiving, has become the unofficial start of the holiday drinking period and one of the top drunk driving nights of the year in some places.

The increase in fatal drunk driving crashes during the holidays comes as no surprise to researchers who have looked at holiday drinking trends. According to a Harris Interactive Survey for Caron Treatment Centers, 16 percent of adults admit to drinking more during the holiday season and 50 percent of people say that alcohol is a part of their family’s holiday get-togethers.

Another reason for the increase in drunk driving accidents has to do with the number of travelers on the road. AAA expected 103 million Americans to travel for the holiday season.

What’s Wrong With Driving After A Few Drinks?

Many people mistakenly believe that a few drinks will not negatively affect their ability to drive. However, even drivers with a blood alcohol concentration as low as .02 can experience the effects of alcohol. As their BAC increases, drivers may experience:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Drowsiness behind the wheel
  • Decline in visual functions
  • Inability to maintain lane position
  • Inability to pay attention to road
  • Impaired perception
  • Difficulty steering
  • Inability to brake properly

These symptoms can cause accidents involving property damage, serious injuries, and even death.

Why Should I Get Involved?

In 2016, over 10,000 people were killed in drunk driving accidents, including over 1,200 children age 14 and younger. These statistics should give you a reason to reflect on your actions this holiday season, even if drunk driving has not directly affected your life.

As you enjoy quality time with your friends and family, make sure you drink responsibly and never get behind the wheel if you are intoxicated. The personal and legal consequences of driving while intoxicated can be severe, and may end up costing someone their life.