The holidays are a great time for having social gatherings with friends and reuniting with loved ones. At the same time, they are also a time when accidents increase. In some states, weather might be a factor in increased accidents, but here in Florida, the cause is often related to someone drinking too much before getting behind the wheel.

While most people will make it through the holiday season with nothing but good memories, there are still some things that holiday drivers need to be aware of. About 30% of fatal accidents are related to drunk driving in Florida, and more than 43,000 people were arrested for drinking and driving in 2012. That is why it is important to have a plan and use defensive driving skills.

Designate a Driver

Any time a person is going out to a holiday party, it is important to choose a designated driver who avoids alcohol entirely. Many people think they can ‘just have one’, but often, that one will turn into more, as inhibitions are lowered. Anyone who is planning on drinking should have an alternate way of getting home, besides getting behind the wheel themselves.

Drunk driving fatalities have declined 52% since 1982, and that is likely due to stricter laws, as well as the increased use of designated drivers. In fact, about 34 percent of people interviewed in a 2013 telephone survey conducted for Anheuser Busch said they had been driven home by a designated driver or taken public transportation after drinking alcohol.

Be Aware of Other Drivers

Many people who have done everything right still get into accidents with someone not as responsible about drinking and driving. Drivers should keep an eye out for the common signs of drunk driving, like a car weaving in and out of their lane, going 10 miles or more under the speed limit, or making inconsistent stops and wide turns. If a drunk driver is spotted, the driver should keep a respectable distance from the vehicle and be prepared to take evasive action.

Keep in mind that the later the hour, the higher the percentage of drunk drivers on the road. In fact, four times more drunk driving accidents happen at night than during the day, with many happening after midnight. Planning to get home early can be a good precaution to take.

Be a Responsible Host

Hosts should know that they can be held responsible for the actions of their party guests. That is why they should have a plan for getting everyone home safely if they are serving alcohol in their home. Collecting keys and starting a car pool with a designated driver can be a great way to make sure everyone has fun but stays safe at the same time.

In 2012, Florida had 697 alcohol-related fatal accidents, and the sad truth is that every single one of those accidents was preventable. There is never a good reason to drive drunk and there is never a good reason to let a friend drive drunk.

The holidays are a great time to have parties and celebrate with friends. Staying safe doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Instead, with a little advanced planning, holiday partygoers can have a great time and still be around to celebrate many more future holidays as well.

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