Weld County is cracking down on drunk driving. Between 2004 and 2008, the county had one of the highest rates of DUI fatalities in Colorado. In an effort to reduce the number of fatalities during Labor Day weekend, the Weld County DUI Task Force increased patrols and sobriety checkpoints throughout the county on August 20, and will continue the crackdown through September 7.
Labor Day weekend brings an increase in alcohol-related vehicle accidents every year. Unfortunately, many of those accidents result in at least one fatality. People get together for barbecues and other celebratory events, which often involve serving alcohol. Those who drink may not realize how quickly they can become impaired, and they attempt to drive afterward. It’s important to remember that reaction time and attentiveness can be greatly reduced after just a couple of drinks.
In addition, younger people are more susceptible to alcohol, and can experience impairment with lower levels of alcohol in their bodies. In Colorado, a driver is considered to be driving while ability impaired with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05 percent. According to a medical study, male drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 are twice as likely to be fatally injured in a vehicle accident with a BAC of just .02 percent.
But intoxicated drivers aren’t the only drunk driving victims. Many times, in multiple vehicle crashes, it’s the sober driver or passengers who are injured or killed. Drunk drivers are also more likely to hit cyclists and pedestrians, or even to crash into buildings, injuring the people inside. This Labor Day weekend, take steps to ensure your safety, as well as the safety of others by taking a few preventative measures.
Rather than driving somewhere else to celebrate the holiday, create your own celebration at home. Plan a barbecue or a pool party in your back yard, and invite your friends and family over. If you serve alcohol, limit the amount you provide to prevent overindulging. Most importantly, don’t let anyone drive away from your home if they’ve had too much to drink. Either have them stay until they’ve sobered up or, if you have the room, let them stay the night. An unexpected house guest is a small inconvenience compared to someone you know and love getting into a car accident.
Don’t Overdo It
If you do go somewhere away from home for a Labor Day barbecue, and you drink while you’re there, don’t overdo it. Drink in moderation, perhaps limiting yourself to one alcoholic beverage per hour. Alternate drinks containing alcohol with a glass of water. This will not only reduce the amount of alcohol you consume, but keeping your body hydrated also helps prevent the negative, next-day effects of alcohol.
Be a Designated Driver
Work out an agreement with friends and family to take turns every year being the designated driver for your Labor Day event. When it’s your turn, stick to water, juice, or other non-alcoholic beverages. Don’t give in to having “just one” thinking it won’t make a difference. You may have to drive someone home at a moment’s notice.
Don’t Let Others Drive Drunk
Whether you’re the designated driver or not, don’t let friends or others you know get into their vehicles if they’ve had too much to drink. One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking someone will be all right in the car because they’re only driving a short distance, or that they’re ok to drive because they’re not on the verge of falling down or passing out. It doesn’t take that much for a driver to be impaired. Drive them home yourself if you haven’t been drinking, or call them a cab. A taxi is a small expense. Being involved in a car accident, being injured, injuring others, or causing a death will not only entail expense, but possibly jail time, and the burden of living with such a horrible — and preventable — mistake.
With just a little planning, and some common sense, you can ensure you’re around to celebrate Labor Day with your friends and family this year, and every year to come.