• Don’t wreck the holidays — celebrate safely this year

    The holiday season is finally upon us, and so is the season to spend extra time celebrating with friends and family. As many are looking forward to decorating the tree and eating delicious foods, some are anticipating the upcoming weeks of holiday parties and social gatherings. The hustle and bustle of these events can be exciting, but they also can become deadly. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) wants to remind the traveling public of the dangers of drinking and driving, and the importance of planning ahead.

    “Every holiday party begins with planning. MDOT wants the traveling public to take the same approach when it comes to holiday travel,” said Melinda McGrath, P.E., MDOT executive director. “We want to keep our roads as safe as possible this holiday season, and we cannot stress enough the importance of having a designated driver. If you plan on drinking during the holidays, always hand your keys over to someone who has not been drinking.”

    Drunk driving effects thousands of people across the U.S. every year. Every day almost 29 people die in an alcohol-impaired vehicle crash. In 2016, one person was killed in an alcohol-related crash every 50 minutes.

    In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or higher. However, even small amounts of alcohol can impair a person’s ability to drive. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,017 people were killed in 2016 in alcohol related crashes where drivers were under the legal BAC limit.

    Alcohol impairs thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination, which restricts a person from operating a vehicle correctly. Even though someone isn’t feeling or acting drunk, does not automatically mean this person is okay to drive. Just one drink can have significant consequences if someone decides to get behind the wheel.

    While celebrating this year, MDOT offers these tips to ensure Mississippi’s roads remain safe for all motorists this holiday season.

    • If you drink alcohol, do not get behind the wheel for any reason.  Make sure you have a designated driver in mind or a taxi to take you home…
    • Hand your keys over to a trusted friend or family member at the beginning of the night before the first drink. This removes any temptations of thinking you are okay enough to drive.
    • Hold your friends and family accountable; if someone is drinking, do not let them get behind the wheel. Take their keys and make sure they have a sober ride home.
    • Impaired drivers are not only a danger to themselves, but also to other innocent drivers on the road. If you suspect someone is driving drunk, call the police when it is safe to do so.
    • Be aware of other drivers: don’t assume that everyone else is driving as safely as you are.

    “MDOT wants everyone to celebrate the holidays safely, Remember, drugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving and driving under the influence of certain prescription medications can be just as deadly,” McGrath said. “We want everyone to make smart decisions over the holidays and truly enjoy their time spent with friends and family celebrating this wonderful time of the year.”

    For more tips on traveling safely this holiday season, visit GoMDOT.com/drivesmartms.

    For the most current travel and traffic information, visit MDOTTraffic.com, download the free MDOT Traffic app, call Mississippi 511 or follow and like @MississippiDOT on Twitter and Facebook.

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