Drinking and Driving

How to prevent someone from hitting the road

What's the best way to stop drinking and driving? Active interference. We've all been there. You're having a great night, partying with your pals, when someone stands up and, obviously inebriated, goes for their keys. They could be your friend, your sibling or just someone sitting next to you. Whoever they are, they are about to make a mistake, and it's up to you to stop them.

The first thing to remember is: never be rude. Remember your audience; antagonizing anyone is a poor way to persuade, and antagonizing someone intoxicated can be dangerous. You are trying to communicate with someone in an alcoholic stupor, so speak clearly, slowly and, above all, nicely.

Be friendly. Ask where they are going. Sometimes this simple question alone is enough to awaken some common sense. If it is not, gently remind the potential car accident that they are drunk. Gently remind them of the legal consequences. Then, and this is the most important part, kindly offer them an alternative.

Years of drilling from every authority around have ingrained the message "don't drink and drive" firmly into the minds of most people, and a gentle reminder is often all that is needed. Remember, drunken people will ignore their better judgment in favor of doing what's easiest. Make the right thing the easiest thing.

Plan ahead. If you are hosting a party, patrol the door and intercept anyone without a designated driver. Offer them a spot to sleep it off, and don't take no for an answer. If there's enough room for a party, there's enough room for everyone to sleep. If you're going out, make sure you have the number of a taxi company programmed into your phone, even if you are traveling with a designated driver. You may not be able to offer every irresponsible stranger a ride home, but you can do the heavy thinking for them and find them a safe way home. If needed, enlist help. Find the bouncer, the bartender, or someone with a little muscle. Being surrounded by big, scary guys can be quite the sobering experience.

Finally, make yourself accessible. Make sure your friends and relatives know they can count on you. An otherwise responsible person will drive home drunk if they can't think of an alternative. Be that alternative. If you have a cousin or sibling who is, perhaps, underage, don't rat them out. If your kids call you drunk and want a ride, don't yell at them over the phone. Lectures and punishments can come later, when everyone is safe and sober.

The ultimate solution to drunk driving is you. With vigilance and planning, you can help put an end to drunk driving forever.

By Dan William