Enjoy the holidays and have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve
BY HARVEY KOONER
THIS is it – the holiday season is in full swing!
One day it’s a festive gathering with co-workers, then there was your spouse’s Christmas work party and of course you’ll also get together with various friends and family for a little holiday cheer.
You’re excited and you’re probably busy planning all the details. You wonder about who will be there, what you should buy, what you should wear, who you’ll go with and how you’ll get there, but are you also thinking about how you’ll get home safe?
It’s an important piece of detail. Not planning ahead for a safe ride home could have tremendous consequences for you and your family.
Over the past five years, 10 people were killed and 36 were seriously injured in impaired driving related crashes in B.C. between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.
That’s 10 families that had to deal with the loss of a loved one at a time when they should be celebrating and ringing in the New Year together. There are also the families that had to come to terms with the devastation caused by their loved one’s poor decision. For many of these families, the hardest part is knowing that these tragedies could have been prevented.
Yes, it’s true that attitudes toward impaired driving have changed significantly compared to the 1970s, but there are still people who chose to get behind the wheel impaired and put others at great risk.
Earlier this month, RCMP conducted a province-wide CounterAttack blitz and in just one night 220 drivers were removed from our roads for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs!
Their actions could have shattered lives and for that they received strict penalties. So that important piece of detail – planning ahead for a safe ride home – could have prevented them from now trying to figure out how they’ll get to work, what their friends and family will say and how they’ll pay the thousands of dollars in penalties at a time of year they’re usually busy buying gifts.
It doesn’t take much alcohol to impair one’s driving – just because someone has only had a couple of drinks it doesn’t mean they’re okay to drive.
We all know that alcohol impacts judgment, reaction time, coordination and visual functions. Behind the wheel that means it affects a driver’s ability to steer, track moving objects and control speed and lane position. And remember, no amount of coffee, food or fresh air can sober up an impaired person – the only cure is time.
So what can you do? Plan ahead, take a stand, look out for your family and friends and talk about the issue with them.
Whether you’re heading to a festive party or confirming your New Year’s Eve plans, here are ICBC’s tips to help you and your loved ones plan ahead for a safe ride home this holiday season.
* Choose a designated driver before going out. Share the responsibility to help your friends and family get home safely – ask yourself if it’s your turn to be the designated driver.
* Keep money aside for a bus or taxi. Operation Red Nose is also available in 13 communities to help get you and your car home.
* Take a stand and don’t let your loved ones get behind the wheel impaired. Never get in a car with an impaired driver. Ask to get out of the car if necessary.
Enjoy the holidays and have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve.
ICBC’s Harvey Kooner is passionate about helping to raise road safety awareness in the community. In 2012, Harvey was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his many years of community service.