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Use designated driver every time you drink

New Year’s Day might consistently rank as the year’s deadliest day for alcohol-related fatalities, but it should not be the only day of the year that we assign a designated sober driver. There’s always “hype” around designated drivers when it comes to New Year’s, but what about the other 364 days of the year?

Why don’t we make plans for the other major drinking days of the year like Super Bowl Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day or even the impromptu happy hour after work? It’s easy to lose track of time and the number of drinks we have at a sporting event or a day at the beach, so why don’t we plan ahead with a designated sober driver? In 2011, Erie County made 3,435 DWI arrests and they did not all happen on New Year’s Day. More than 200 DWI arrests were made per month that year.

The DUI Foundation website reports that “on average, a first-time impaired-driving offender has driven drunk 87 times before being arrested.” Many of us are getting away with it, so it seems as if we may be able to risk it just one more time. Why don’t we just plan like we do for New Year’s?

It seems simple, yet society continues to choose to drive after drinking, and it’s a choice. Impaired driving crashes (they’re not accidents) devastate families forever. Just ask some of the people who have lost their loved ones. Family members of individuals who were the impaired drivers are devastated, too. People never think it could happen to them. If you have to ask yourself, “Am I OK to drive tonight?” you’re not. It’s that simple. Impaired-driving crashes are 100 percent preventable.

Monica A. Farrar, MS CRC; RC

Drinking Driver Program Director

Private Clinician

Amherst