A sobering question

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The holidays are a great time for people to gather and be social, but unfortunately it’s a time of year we often see an increase in impaired driving.

If you plan to drink at that party, have you made an advance plan about how to get yourself and others home safely? This is a sobering question.

Nobody leaves for a party or gathering by saying: “Tonight is the night I kill someone with my car, lose my license, orphan my children, or end up in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.” Yet year after year those are the sad realities for people who drink and drive.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) continue to advocate to prevent many of the tragedies that have befallen them and their families.

St. Albert MP Michael Cooper is championing legislation that would make for tougher penalties against drunk drivers. While this is laudable effort, it only deals with the problem after the fact. We all need to prevent drunks from getting behind the wheel in the first place.

While drunk driving can happen any time of the year, typically there are more  events during the holidays. Many parties, New Year’s celebrations and family get-togethers often bring alcohol along for the ride.

You wouldn’t trust a critical decision to a drunk person, so why would you trust them/you to make that decision about how to get you home safely after a few drinks? That is a plan you must make in advance.

This month St. Albert elementary school students were among children from across the province who put messages on 65,000 liquor bags to remind people not to drink and drive. It is an initiative of Students Against Drunk Driving. We should all heed their warnings.

Make a plan for how you are getting home before you leave. Are you taking a cab? Do you have a designated driver? Have you made plans for accommodations within walking distance of your party?

If you are hosting a party where alcohol is served, what is the plan for getting your guests home safely? Are you collecting keys at the door? Do you have room for them to stay if they drink too much? Do you have a designated driver to get guests home safely?

If you are serving alcohol at a bar, how do you plan to deal with the patron who has had too much to drink? Will you call them a cab? Will you arrange for a sober ride home?

On occasions where efforts to keep someone who has had too much to drink off the road fail, are you prepared to call for help? It may be uncomfortable to call police about your friend, colleague, or best customer. Yet how uncomfortable will it be if they kill or injure themselves or someone else on their drive home when you had a chance to prevent it from happening?

If you are planning to drink, please don’t drive. Keeping impaired people off the road is a joint responsibility. We all need to have a plan and be prepared to act.

The key to a happy and healthy new year is to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

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St. Albert Gazette

The St. Albert Gazette has been the source for news and community information in St. Albert and area since 1961. Today the twice-weekly full-colour tabloid delivers award-winning journalism in print, online and on mobile.