The Importance of a Safe and Sober Holiday Season

Contributed by GUIDE Youth Advisory Board Members

Joshua Jahn reflects on a cherished holiday memory, saying “We had a fresh tree. I was so protective of sweet baby Kaitlyn. I’d run outside to warm the car if she had to go out. Mandy and I stayed up until 3 am putting together a train set for Ryan, and I took a picture of him jumping for joy with his sister in the background confused about all the excitement he had because of his present on Christmas morning.” The sad reality for Joshua is that it would be the last one he would spend with the whole family, as his son and 11-month old daughter were killed in a car wreck in 2007. He now tells his tragic story as an advocate for MADD.

Stories like these are why the GUIDE Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is devoted to preventing impaired and drunk driving—especially around the holidays. With December being National Drunk Driving Prevention Month, we thought we would share with you some important information about the dangers of impaired driving.

Statistics about drunk and impaired driving certainly outline the problem we have here in the United States:

  • According to the CDC’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, between 2003-2012, a total of 3,699 Georgians were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver.
  • The CDC also reported that in the US, about one in three traffic deaths involved a drunk driver.
  • To add insult to injury, drunk drivers got behind the wheel about 121 million times in 2012.
  • Per the County Health Ranking and Roadmaps, trends in Gwinnett County tend to reflect those more prevalent in other parts of the country. In Gwinnett County, from 2010-2014, alcohol was involved in one quarter of motor vehicle crash deaths (down from 29.4% in the 2008-2012 period).
  • The Georgia Student Health Survey II found that 35% of teens in Georgia High schools have reported drinking at least one drink in the past 30 days; this shows that the problem exists on the national and local level, but also in all age groups.

Although the holidays bring about a season filled with joy and cheer, we must face the facts and realize that impaired driving is at an all-time high during this time of the year. In fact, two to three times more people die in DUI-related accidents during the holiday season than during any other time of the year as reported by the Georgia Department of Transportation. They also reported that an estimated 25,000 people are injured over the holiday season — with the number of DUI traffic stops increasing by 155% on New Year’s Eve and 33% on Christmas Eve.

This holiday season, when it comes to preventing impaired driving, remember that none of us are exempt from the harmful effects and indirect consequences of impaired or drunk driving. First and foremost, be mindful of our own behavior with alcohol consumption—especially if you intend on driving.

As we spend time with the people we care about the most over the holidays, it is important to talk openly and honestly with your loved ones about drinking, impaired driving and addiction. Ignoring or turning a blind eye to these issues is a problem. Having conversations about these topics can protect the people that we love, as well a multitude of others that could be affected by impaired driving.

This holiday season stay sober, stay safe and protect the ones that you love.

 

The GUIDE Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is a group of high school students from across Gwinnett County who come together to learn leadership skills, provide input to various aspects of GUIDE programming and conduct substance abuse prevention projects. YAB members are committed to positively impacting the community, as well as making responsible and healthy personal choices.

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