There may not be a sign of snow, but this Christmas is still set to be a special one for me. I am now a dad, and with fatherhood comes a new outlook on the festive season. Yes it's fun to wail to Wizzard with a whiskey in hand, but above all, I want it to be a magical time for my son. It's this new responsibility that makes me feel obliged to remind the nation about the dangers of a drink too many.
According to road safety charity Brake, one in three (32%) UK drivers admit to driving after drinking alcohol in the last year and in 2012 alone, 230 people were killed in drink drive accidents. Despite inevitably impaired vision, reduced reaction times and an increased inclination to take risks, we as a nation aren't taking drink driving seriously.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the legal alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood in your body. This level of alcohol concentration depends on everything from your weight and metabolism to how many roast potatoes you've eaten and how much fizz you've opted for (carbonated alcohol will take effect more quickly). The general consensus, though, is that we as a nation are not sticking to this limit.
Perhaps this could be attributed to confusing measurements and signals of being over the limit, or simply, as presented in recent research, an attitude that whilst we may be ignoring the law, we know our body's capabilities and simply won't be told otherwise.
"It was Christmas"
Most shocking, I find, is the nonchalant attitude towards drink driving. "I just did" was one response to a survey by car insurer Chaucer Direct, which asked drink drivers why they had chosen to drive over the limit. The festivities in themselves were worryingly seen as a valid excuse, with one claiming "it was Christmas" and another who "had to take friends home" stating, "it was two days before Christmas so I had a drink".
So, why do drunk people see Christmas as a legitimate excuse to drive? One response which resonated with me was "I was still in complete control. The limit is arbitrary". The idea that certain people feel exempt from these limits is a worrying one that I have admittedly heard murmured from friends in the past. There is some sort of preconception that because it is our own bodies, our ability to function is entirely subjective. But with young men more likely to be involved in a crash than any other demographic, the I-know-how-much-I-can-handle attitude is surely one that needs to change?
Tips for festivities
Because there are so many variables to determine whether or not you are over the legal limit, it is best to presume that any amount of alcohol leaves a driving seat off-limits. Take a look at the tips below to see how to avoid a drink driving mistake this season:
• Arrange a designated driver amongst your group of friends. This person can abstain from drink entirely and you can take turns each night.
• Use taxis or public transport. Modes of transport are ever more accessible and affordable if planned with a group.
• Arrange to stay over. Most get-togethers at Christmas are at friend or family homes, so arrange to stay at theirs or in a nearby hotel.
• If you see a driver driving recklessly, report the car along with its description and location to the police. This could prevent tragic accidents.
Do you have any tips for avoiding the booze at a Christmas party?