Sober and safe: Host responsibly and designate a driver
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Hill County's sixth annual Sober and Safe campaign has already been kicked off and will run through Jan. 1. The local campaign includes three components: Designate a driver, host responsibly; and New Year's home-free.
Fact: Statistics show that impaired driving rises significantly over holiday periods, with December typically being high on that list. While alcohol-related fatalities have not occurred during the holiday season for the past six years, there have been too many alcohol-related fatalities and injuries during the rest of the year.
According to data compiled by the Montana Department of Transportation, between 1995 and 2000 there were 15 alcohol-related fatalities and 195 alcohol-related injuries in Hill County.
This is much higher than the state average of 39.1 percent for alcohol-related fatalities and 17.5 percent of alcohol-related injuries for the same time period.
Local teens ages 15 to 19 make up 9 percent of the population, but account for 29 percent of all alcohol-related injuries. When you let teenagers drink in your home and break the law, you encourage dangerous behavior. If we respect the drinking age law by telling young people we expect them to obey it and stopping those who let them drink, we can make prevention work.
Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association reports the following:
The December holidays are among the deadliest times of the year on our nation's highways, and impaired driving is a big part of the problem.
An average of one alcohol-related fatality occurs every 30 minutes.
About two in every five Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.
Alcohol and other drugs are a factor in 45.1 percent of all fatal automobile crashes and 20 percent of all crashes involving injury. In 1992, impaired driving crashes claimed the lives of more than 17,000 Americans and injured 1.2 million others. Of those killed, close to one-third were under 25 years of age.
Take a stand against impaired driving this holiday season by following the recommendations of your local Sober and Safe Campaign. This local campaign has been designed to promote awareness of the impaired-driving problem, to support programs and policies to reduce the incidence of impaired driving, to promote safer and healthier behaviors regarding the use of alcohol and other drugs, and to provide opportunities for all to participate by taking a stand against impaired driving.
Now through Jan. 1, participating taverns will provide adult (over 21) designated drivers of each group a campaign drink cup themed "I Love You Guys So I Drive' and will fill it with nonalcohol drinks, free of charge, the entire evening.
Publications and public service announcements highlight the Host Responsibly component of the campaign. Guides for party hosting, including nonalcohol beverage ideas, and pointers to ensure that guests have fun and remain safe, are available from the HELP Committee, 265-6206.
On New Year's Eve, Havre Ford coordinates in-town rides that will accommodate most people's partying needs, as we realize many won't take advantage of the free ride home and leave a car behind. They will pick you up from your home and transport you to other home or company parties, to local taverns, from one tavern to another, and deliver you home safely at the end of the evening. They will also safely drive your baby sitter home.
So please, if your holiday plans include alcohol, plan accordingly by using a designated driver, hosting responsible holiday parties, and if you plan on going out for New Year's Eve, call either 949-0613 or 949-0614 on New Year's Eve after about 6 p.m. to take advantage of the New Year's free rides.
For more information on this campaign or a Responsible Party Guide, contact the HELP Committee at 265-6206.