Regeneration and Resolutions, Streamers and Screams, Bubbly and Boys, Kisses and Crowns… New Year’s Eve come’s just once a year and totes alongside it the nostalgic feeling of fresh opportunity and new beginnings!
But, that excitement also brings trouble crawling lowly behind… Every year New Year’s Day tragedy follows the hopeful spirits of the Eve’s festivities, which are notoriously marked by flowing libations and treats. In the moment sensations of ‘letting go’ and invincibility are an occurrence happening not just to Y’s, but to everyone who consumes of alcohol. So @TheYLife took this poignant opportunity to help get the word out… when it comes to staying safe this Holiday. We sat down with Sally Matson, a victim advocate at MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving [ www.madd.ord ].
“I agree, that there’s an invincibility problem. I think lots of things contribute to it, but alcohol being “liquid courage” is likely to be a common factor. Most people know that alcohol and drugs impair you physically and cognitively. But, few people think of how alcohol (and drugs) impair your judgement. After just ONE drink you lose your ability to “self assess.” Many people who choose to drink and drive believe they are just fine… It is part of the impairment to not realize what a compromised condition you are in…” explained Sally.
When I asked Mrs. Matson if my hypothesis, that certain times of the year were more volatile for accidents related to drinking and driving, she agreed.
“Yes, there are certain times of the year that are “more deadly.” In Florida that time begins just before Thanksgiving and ends January 2nd. That is a reason you see an increase in high visibility law enforcement such as sobriety checkpoints or zero tolerance traffic safety campaigns.”
I wondered what steps we can take to protect ourselves from the pain that comes after an impaired momentary lapse of conscious and Sally told me of some great alternative options to getting behind the wheel, like planning to spend the night where you are going to be partying, and how in some cities public transportation is such a viable option, that many should take advantage of at moments like this.
“To protect yourself and people you care about, MAKE A PLAN!! Never under estimate the power of a Designated (SOBER) Driver. Sober means no drinks, not just less drinks. If everyone wants to drink, pool your money and hire a taxi. $50.00 for cab fare can be the best money you will ever spend! Besides losing your life or living with the knowledge that you hurt or killed someone, legal fees for a misdemeanor DUI are usually several thousand dollars… Remember, MADD is not about ruining your fun, it is about saving lives.”
Sally also mentioned an interesting facet that many don’t think about during this time…
“I would also like to remind everyone of their moral obligation to friends, family and society as a whole not to stand idly by and let someone drive who shouldn’t. Never let anything prevent you from speaking up when you see someone threatening their own well being and that of others. Think of all the things that people are willing to say to each other about nominal things… Why would you worry about angering someone or embarrassing them when it is a life or death matter? You never want to be that person who asks themselves for the rest of your life, “Why did I let them do that?” Be proactive!”
When I asked Sally about the steps MADD is taking to help mold future generations making better decisions when it comes to drinking and driving, she delved into MADD’s mission.
“MADD is still trying to influence young people by speaking in schools, churches, community groups, anywhere we can share our message. A MADD program, the Power of Parents, is working on educating parents about drugs and alcohol and the impact of both on the developing brain; MADD has launched a new program, The Power of Youth, encouraging peers to take a stand against alcohol use after 21; MADD is also committed to technology as a way to eliminate drunk driving in the future.”
Did you know that MADD is currently working on, “Research and development for a system called DADDS, which will eventually disable cars from starting if the driver is impaired and nationally MADD is working to require ignition interlock devices on the cars of all DUI offenders, even first time offenders. In states where this policy has been adopted, DUI fatalities have dropped as much as 20% in the first year.“
Something that I took to heart while speaking with this MADD advocate is that DUI death or injury can happen to ANYONE, but it is 100% preventable!
“DUI crashes happen all over our country, with more than 10,000 fatalities last year, that is more than all the American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan combined in more than 10 years! DUI cases do not only involve strangers. Many victims of DUI are killed by a close friend or family member… It is a complicated set of circumstances and there is no good side to it. No one wins when you choose to drive impaired.”