Make Safety Your To-Go Choice

With the arrival of warmer weather, you no doubt have noticed alcoholic beverages in ice buckets by cash registers at many gas and convenience store locations. You can pick up “beach chillers” in the drive-through lane at the Daiquiri Shack. Alcohol deliveries and cocktails-to-go are not only commonplace today, they have come to be expected by many consumers looking for a “cold roadie.”

The temptation to pop open a can of beer or sip on a bottled margarita can be great for individuals thinking, “It’s right here. It’s available. It must be OK.” Maybe they are on their lunch hour or nearing the end of another long work day. Maybe they are a few miles from home and ready to unwind.

That is no reason to rationalize a poor choice. No amount of convenience is worth the risk of driving while impaired by alcohol or other drugs. It’s not OK to “toss back” just one drink as you hit the road because impairment begins with that first drink.

Even when blood alcohol concentration is measured at low levels, studies show vision, judgment and reflexes can be compromised. All of these bodily functions are needed for safe driving and operating motorized equipment of all kinds. Getting behind the wheel while impaired takes no one else into consideration. Crashes impact drivers, passengers and others sharing the road.

Businesses pay a high price for alcohol and drug misuse. In fact, alcohol is a contributing factor in 39% of all work-related traffic crashes. On U.S. roads, one person is killed every hour in a drunk-driving crash, and nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities across the country involve drunk driving. These tragedies involve friends, relatives and coworkers. They involve all of us. In fact, research indicates 3 in 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash during their lifetime. Wow!

Let that sink in. If these crashes are preventable, why do they continue to occur?

Many enjoy a cold alcoholic drink while sitting on the back patio or firing up the grill. Nothing wrong with that. But if you’re going to drink at a backyard gathering, you need to plan ahead for a safe ride home. That could mean calling for a ride or designating a sober driver to take you home.

The party mindset of those who want to turn up the radio and shout “let’s rock and roll” is OK if they’re not drinking and driving. If those are your people and they choose to get behind the wheel while impaired, then it is time for you to choose new people to hang out with, if only to protect yourself.

Life is all about choices. Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. All of us make choices. All of the choices we make come with consequences.

There are no do-overs. Think about that the next time you see alcohol to-go. Drinking and driving is not only dangerous, it is illegal. The cost of a DUI-arrest can exceed $17,000, factoring in attorney’s fees, fines and lost work time. The cost of a life is impossible to quantify.

My wish for you and yours this spring and summer: Have fun and be safe!

—Lisa Robinson is a senior program manager with the National Safety Council