Since 1981, every U.S. president has declared December as National Drunk Driving Prevention Month. With the combination of holiday travel, family gatherings and the anxiety that this time of year can often bring, drunk driving crashes increase dramatically in December.
Even as COVID-19 has forced people to change their travel plans, plenty of us are likely to still drive during the holidays, especially since driving with members of your household is safer than flying. If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety and/or grieving around the holidays, please make a plan to be safe and avoid drinking and driving.
Try Alcohol-Free Festive Drinks
The most effective way to avoid drunk driving is by, of course, not drinking alcohol. That can be difficult when you are experiencing other challenges within your home and community. If you are planning to travel to gather with your family (after quarantining for at least 7-10 days according to the new CDC guidelines) or celebrating with your immediate household, make a plan to celebrate with healthy, traditional foods and drinks that are alcohol-free. And there are plenty of recipes and drink ideas available online for those who want to drink something seasonal while not being under the influence. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Eggnog Hot Chocolate: Hot cocoa and eggnog alone stand out as classic winter drinks. Combine the two for a new favorite.
Warm Tea-and-Cider Punch: This combo of tea steeped in hot cider is both comforting and reviving. For our purposes, skip the suggested bourbon. If you like, add a teaspoon of alcohol-free vanilla extract to replace.
Cranberry Fizz: This is a simple one. All you need is ginger ale, cranapple juice, cinnamon sugar and a lemon or lime.
Glow Water: If you’re looking to stay hydrated, this is a great option as it only takes a tall glass of seltzer, mint and lemon.
Crimson Christmas Punch: With raspberry sherbet, ginger ale and three types of juice, you may mistake this sweet treat for dessert.
For more non-alcoholic drink recipes, see this list shared by Country Living.
Get a Ride
If you do end up having a drink or two during a holiday party and still have to get somewhere, the best idea is to not get behind the wheel. There are plenty of options available to make sure you reach your destination safely. For starters, make a plan for where you will be. If you are on a reservation, make sure to identify a relative or someone you know who is sober who can drive you places, bring you supplies as needed or take you home. If you are in an urban area, there are additional options like ridesharing apps which are available in dozens of cities around the world. Make sure to create an account ahead of time.
If you find yourself in a place where ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft aren’t available, don’t hesitate to reach out to relatives for a ride. If your family member lives nearby and has no plans for the night, ask them if they could drive you to and from your holiday event. Chances are they will say yes—especially if there’s a small bonus involved, like a pair of beaded earrings, a painting, a few bucks toward their holiday fund or traditional gifts like tobacco. Ultimately, they’d rather see you be safe than in danger of getting into a car accident.
Spend the Night
If you know the host of the party you’re attending and are comfortable with them, ask them beforehand if you can spend the night at their house. Don’t worry about being an imposition to the host, as they’d rather know you’ll be safe and sound under their roof as opposed to drinking and driving.
Using any—or all—of these ideas during December (and throughout the year) will go a long way towards keeping you and your loved ones safe. Just because it’s a time for celebration doesn’t mean you should be risky behind the wheel.
Have a happy and safe holiday season!