Don’t Binge Drink and Drive: Be a Responsible Driver
By Leslie Davis
If you’ve been out a bar all night drinking with friends and not keeping tabs on how many shots you’ve had, there’s a pretty good chance that you aren’t in the best position to drive yourself home (despite your faith in your own driving skills).
But, against the better judgment of you and your friends, you decide to get behind the wheel and drive home, putting everyone in the car and everyone on the streets at risk. By doing so, you become one of the surprising number of people who think it’s okay to drive while intoxicated.
One in eight people who binge drink – defined as having five or more drinks on one occasion – drive within two hours of drinking, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Two hours is not enough time for the effects of the alcohol to wear off, meaning those people are driving with impaired judgment, motor skills and vision.
In its Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, the CDC also discovered the following statistics about binge drinking and driving:
- The more than 14,000 adults who were surveyed reported having more than five drinks during a single drinking session in the previous 30 days.
- 50 percent of binge drinkers are between the ages of 25 and 44.
- About 55 percent of binge drinkers drive home from bars, clubs and restaurants.
- 23 percent of binge drinkers drive home from someone else’s house.
- Drivers who drank most of their alcohol in licensed establishments consumed an average of 8.1 drinks, and 25.7 percent of them consumed at least 10 drinks.
- About 1.5 billion binge drinking episodes occur annually in the United States.
As the statistics show, binge drinking is not just confined to college dorm rooms and frat houses. A large number of adults indulge in multiple drinks while they are socializing with friends, celebrating an achievement or trying to unwind from a long, stressful week. And, unfortunately, a high number of those people still decide to drive themselves home.
If you are planning to indulge in a night of drinking, don’t risk driving home. Instead, take the following precautions to ensure the safety of yourself and others:
Arrange for a Designated Driver
Having a designated driver is always a good way to let yourself indulge without worrying about how you’re going to get home. If you are going out with a group of friends, there’s a good chance at least one person in that group is not a big drinker and won’t mind being responsible enough to have no more than one or two drinks – or, ideally, not drink alcohol at all – and get everyone home safely.
If everyone in your group likes to drink, then take turns designating a driver so that each person takes on the role at some point without giving up nights out all of the time.
When it’s impossible to get someone in your group to be the designated driver, or if the designated driver ends up drinking too much to drive home, have someone else drive you all home. The main goal is to get home safely.
Take Public Transportation
Depending on where you live, public transportation may be the ticket to your night out. Large cities such as Boston, New York and Seattle have public transportation that runs late or all night, making it possible for you to get home even if you have had one too many drinks. Just be sure to know the hours of the local buses and trains so that you don’t miss the last one.
Also know when you are in a city that does not have a centralized public transportation system so that you don’t think you can hop on a bus at the end of the night. While taxis may be an option, they are bound to be quite expensive in cities that require you to take a freeway home.
Walk to Your Destination
One of the best ways to avoid the problem of binge drinking and driving is to walk to your desired location, if possible. That eliminates any risky driving, but keep in mind that some cities will issue citations for being drunk in public so it’s still a good idea to limit the number of drinks you have.
Only you know how much alcohol you can handle. Drink slowly so that you aren’t downing as many drinks during the night and pace yourself. Having only a few drinks will have the same effect as if you have five or more, and the more you drink, the higher the risk for overdose, alcohol poisoning or other alcohol-related complications.
Have a Friend Monitor Your Drinks
If you just aren’t capable of limiting how many drinks you have on your own, ask a friend to help you determine your cut-off point. While ultimately it’s your responsibility to stop drinking, having a reminder from a friend may stop you from having yet another drink.
If you regularly binge drink and aren’t able to stop with the help of a friend or on your own, you may have an alcohol addiction that requires treatment. A residential treatment center for alcohol addiction can help you recognize your drinking problem and take necessary measures to beat it so that you won’t have to worry about driving and getting behind the wheel ever again.