As many of you know, I'm part of Responsibilty.org's blogger team this year and for December, they've asked us to look over some of their survey data about drunk driving and respond to it. The holidays mean parties, getting together with friends and more social occasions on the calendar than we normally have. Having a drink at a party is part of the fun for me - but I don't always do it. First of all, I'm prone to making an ass of myself in public under the best circumstances. Second, I am terrified of not being fine behind the wheel. If I have to drive home, I will rarely drink and if I do - I usually stop at one.
I know my body pretty well but for some reason, when I'm out and about, alcohol can sometimes affect me differently. Sometimes, I'll have two drinks at dinner and feel completely fine. Other times, I'll have two drinks and be ready to table dance. Don't believe me? Last weekend, I attended a wedding. My husband was the driver so I had three glasses of cabernet and ended up thinking it was a great idea to do The Wobble with all the young people. This sort of makes sense when you consider that according to Responsibility.org's survey data, 63% of Americans don't know what the legal limit is for BAC (blood alcohol concentration - and it's .08).*
*Sadly, there is no legal limit for middle-aged white people doing The Wobble.
That means that the majority of us don't know what our limits are. And we're out there this month, celebrating with friends and family, and then getting in our cars. Let that sink in.
There is simply no excuse for getting behind the wheel of a car if you've had too much to drink. There's Uber. There are cabs. There is walking. There's staying put where you are. There's looking slightly embarrassed and asking a friend or acquaintance to bail you out of an uncomfortable situation. And then there is the alternative - risking your life and the lives of other innocent people because of a bad decision, because it seemed "easier" at the time to get in your car then to make another arrangement.
We have to know our limits and we have to be there for our friends. What's surprising though, is that so many people feel they can't speak up. 19% of Americans don't feel confident of preventing a friend from driving after they've had too much to drink. I've been there, but I swallowed my fear and insisted.
A few years ago, I stopped an undeniably impaired friend from driving drunk. My friend did not appreciate my interference. My friend yelled at me and said some pretty rough things. We argued and I watched this person storm out of the house, angrily walking miles home late at night rather than accept a ride from me. I followed them home. When they were a block away from their house, I put their keys in the mailbox and drove home, my stomach in knots. I was convinced I had destroyed our friendship but felt like I had no choice.
The next day, I got a sincere apology and an expression of gratitude.
Stopping my friend from driving that night SUUUUCCCKED. It was an experience I still can't look back on without feeling like garbage. But I wouldn't change it. I care so much about that person and I can't imagine how it would have impacted them if they'd gotten in an accident and hurt themselves, hurt someone else, or gotten a DUI.
Men are more likely than women to feel confident to stop someone from driving drunk. Think about that for a minute. Why? I can't speak for all women but I know why I would hesitate. Maybe I'm concerned about embarrassing a friend at a party by insinuating they're drunk when they're not. Maybe I'm worried that I'm reading the situation incorrectly and I'm going to offend the person I'm trying to help. Or maybe I allow my insecurities about being perceived as too aggressive/loud/bossy to stop me from saving a friend from a potentially life-altering mistake. That may be the big one for me, you guys. I don't want my friends, colleagues, neighbors (or their partners) to think I'm a pain in the ass or some obnoxious, nosy person who needs to mind their own beeswax.
I understand why we might not say something, but I won't allow that fear to stop me from doing what's right, even if it makes everyone - including me - really uncomfortable. 66% of Americans say that it's everyone's own personal responsibility to address impaired driving. Sure it is! We need to know our own limits and make smart choices about getting home safely. Except that the people who are most likely to drive under the influence are the least likely to take personal responsibility for safe choices in an impaired state.
It's our collective responsibility to make sure our friends are safe. I hope you'll join me in being a pain in the ass to all your friends, neighbors and colleagues this holiday season.
This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org as part of their #TalkEarly campaigns, encouraging families to talk early, talk often, and be healthy. All the opinions are my own because no one is the boss of me. I'm very proud to be part of the #TalkEarly blogger team this year.
(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2015
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