Drinking and driving destroys thousands of lives each year. Alcohol has a way of “sneaking up on you” sometimes and the effects of alcohol can be unpredictable. Some nights you may have two beers and feel a buzz, while other nights you’re almost at ten and still feel unsatisfied.

Binge drinking is common among drinkers. It seems that most people either don’t care for alcohol or like drinking alcohol TOO much, but it should not be tolerated when it claims so many innocent victims. Drinking with set limits and a sensible transportation plan is fine, but excessively drinking and driving someone off the road has become a serious social problem that must be targeted through a variety of community strategies.

The drinking and driving statistics for 2005 were astounding. Roughly 1 million people were injured in drunken driving crashes that year. The NTSHA reported that 16,885 Americans died in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes, representing 39{fb65e7e27c282a02fa0a36039dc4c9383b3a38d5a4237f8adb1f7680a9920255} of all traffic-related deaths.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving statistics show that the percentage jumped to 41{fb65e7e27c282a02fa0a36039dc4c9383b3a38d5a4237f8adb1f7680a9920255} the following year. Additionally, the Department of Justice reported that another 1.4 million drivers were arrested for DUI or DWI.

In a survey done by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 159 million people admitted that they had been drinking and driving that year! Given these dangerous statistics, it seems that people are seriously underestimating the possible effects of alcohol on the road.

Since alcohol consumption is known to physically impair judgment in the amygdala region of the brain, obscuring danger while simultaneously exciting the “reward center,” we almost can’t help ourselves. Therefore, the only way to resist the urge to just get in your car and go is to plan ahead with a designated driver or alternate form of transportation, set defined time and alcohol consumption limits for ourselves and learn your personal tolerance levels.

The best way to prevent drinking and driving in general is to be a good friend. Sometimes it may seem taxing or you may feel underappreciated, but understand that a simple gesture could save a life.

You can suggest another ride home for the person who has been drinking alcohol, offer to let them stay the night at your house, offer to ride the bus with them home, or even pay for a cab to get them home safely. People who have high alcohol content might get belligerent with you or treat you like a “party crasher,” but positive peer pressure is the only way we can combat bad habits and deadly behavior.

Each year, drinking and driving crashes in the United States cost about $51 billion. Some efforts to combat drug and alcohol abuse have been successful. For example, increased police enforcement/setting up sobriety checkpoints have helped deter law breakers.

The zero tolerance law has been effective in targeting young drivers in some states. For some large festivals, a Ride Program is set up to give free (or at least affordable) transportation for attendees. Mandatory counseling for offenders is a good step toward recovery from alcoholism as well.

There are some drinking and driving prevention success stories. Over the past 20 years, alcohol-related fatal crash rates have decreased by 60{fb65e7e27c282a02fa0a36039dc4c9383b3a38d5a4237f8adb1f7680a9920255} for drivers aged 16 to 17 years and 55{fb65e7e27c282a02fa0a36039dc4c9383b3a38d5a4237f8adb1f7680a9920255} for drivers aged 18 to 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To be most effective, communities are urged to implement and enforce minimum legal drinking age laws and “zero tolerance” laws for drivers under 21.