This weekend many folks will be ringing in a new year, perhaps with
hopes that it will be a better year than the one we are leaving.
As we think about the new year, there is one thing the city of
Lincoln does not want anyone to have to face in 2012 and that is the
death of a loved one due to impaired driving.
December is typically the month designated by the Lincoln City
Council as "Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Month." The council
does this to lend support to those who support responsible drinking
and those who enforce the law when arrests are made due to impaired
Mike Geriets, deputy police chief for the city, said this week
that the city officers will be paying attention New Year's Eve, and
if you drive impaired, you will be stopped.
"Fortunately, we have a history of not having a lot of impaired
drivers out there on New Year's Eve, but our officers will be
watching, paying attention to all drivers, especially in the
late-night hours," Geriets said.
Geriets issued the usual reminders to all who may be celebrating
the New Year: Choose a designated driver or take a cab.
Once again this year, the Healthy Communities Partnership Healthy
Behaviors Task Force is teaming up with American Cab Co. in Lincoln
to make taking a cab an easy choice.
The cab company will pick up partygoers at their location and
deliver them home safe and sound, at no cost. The service doesn't
allow for bar-hopping. Riders will only be delivered to their homes,
and the delivery will only be within the city limits of Lincoln.
If you have been drinking, you are encouraged to call the cab
company at 735-9696 or ask the bartender to call a cab for you.
"Safe Ride has become an established service that helps keep our
streets safer on nights when children and families are more apt to
be enjoying activities away from home," says Kristi Lessen, director
of the Healthy Communities Partnership. "We encourage not only the
community to remember Safe Ride when celebrating, but also
bartenders to suggest it when necessary."
In 2012, Safe Ride will be available on Super Bowl Sunday, St.
Patrick's Day, Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July, the weekend of
the Logan County Fair, during the Lincoln Art & Balloon Festival,
Labor Day weekend, Halloween, the night before Thanksgiving,
Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
In 2010 nationwide there were 32,885 traffic fatalities, with
over 10,000 being alcohol- or drug-related. According to the U.S.
Department of Transportation, the total fatality number is the
lowest since 1949.
However, in Illinois, there were 927 fatalities, actually 16 more
than the previous year.
The State University of New York Sociology Department in Potsdam,
N.Y., has put together a website that serves to educate the reader
on alcohol in general and offers some very good information on
While many would prefer to see total abstinence from alcohol,
common sense says that's not going to happen soon, so the next best
thing is to act responsibly.
The website offers the following sound advice:
Volunteer to be a
Always use a
safety seat belt.
highways whenever possible.
Avoid rural roads.
Avoid travel after
with air bags.
Never use illegal
drugs. Illicit drugs are involved in a large proportion of
Never drive when
fatigued. The dangers posed when fatigued are similar to those
when intoxicated. A drunk or fatigued driver has slowed
reactions and impaired judgment. And a driver who nods off at
the wheel has no reactions and no judgment! Drivers who drift
off cause about 72,500 injuries and deaths each and every year.
Don't use a car
phone, put on makeup, comb your hair or eat while driving.
Drivers using cellular phones are four times more likely to have
an accident than other drivers.
Steer clear of aggressive drivers.
Aggressive drivers may be responsible for more deaths than drunk
Volunteer to be a
Never condone or
approve of excessive alcohol consumption. Intoxicated behavior
is potentially dangerous and never amusing.
Don't ever let your friends drive
drunk. Take their keys, have them stay the night, have them ride
home with someone else, call a cab, or do whatever else is
necessary -- but don't let them drive!
[to top of second column]
BE A GOOD HOST
Create a setting
conducive to easy, comfortable socializing: soft, gentle music;
low levels of noise; comfortable seating. This encourages
conversation and social interaction rather than heavy drinking.
Serve food before
beginning to serve drinks. This de-emphasizes the importance of
alcohol and also sends the message that intoxication is not
Have a responsible
bartender. If you plan to ask a friend or relative to act as
bartender, make sure that person is not a drink pusher who
encourages excessive consumption.
Don't have an
"open bar." A responsible person needs to supervise consumption
to ensure that no one drinks too much. You have both a moral and
a legal responsibility to make sure that none of your guests
drink too much.
Pace the drinks.
Serve drinks at regular, reasonable intervals. A drink-an-hour
schedule is a good guide.
Push snacks. Make
sure that people are eating.
Be sure to offer a
diversity of attractive nonalcoholic drinks. (For numerous
nonalcoholic drink recipes, see
choice not to drink. Remember that about one-third of American
adults choose not to drink and that a guest's reason for not
drinking is the business of the guest only, not of the host.
Never put anyone on the defensive for not drinking.
End your gathering
properly. Decide when you want the party to end and stop serving
drinks well before that time. Then begin serving coffee along
with substantial snacks. This provides essential nondrinking
time before your guests leave.
Protect others and yourself by never
driving if you think, or anyone else thinks, that you might have
had too much to drink. It's always best to use a designated
One of the greatest ways to save lives and show your friends you
care is to choose to be the designated driver. Designated drivers do
not consume alcohol, not even one drink.
The same website also published the following good thoughts for
those who choose to be designated drivers:
A designated driver helps friends and family:
Advantages to the designated driver concept:
The nondrinker has
a legitimate and respected role at a social function where
alcohol is served. There is no stigma to abstaining because the
designated driver is considered an important member of the
group. Being a designated driver can also help legitimize a
personal choice not to drink.
driver approach prevents driving under any level of impairment
because that person consumes no alcohol. It doesn't require a
driver or passenger to determine if a person is too impaired to
The server or host
can offer a positive alternative to drunk driving by encouraging
a group to designate a driver.
The designated driver concept is easy
to understand, simple to implement, costs nothing and is
Tips for designated drivers:
whenever you are going to socialize with alcohol beverages.
Decide ahead of
time who will not drink any alcohol before or during the party
turns being the designated driver. Look after your friends and
family and they can look after you.
Larger groups should have more than one
This holiday season, LDN joins the city council, Mayor Keith
Snyder, the Lincoln Police Department and the Healthy Communities
Partnership in asking all those who celebrate to do so responsibly
and to remember that the life you save might just be your own.
Alcohol Problems and Solutions, published by the State University
of New York Sociology Department, Potsdam, N.Y.:
[By NILA SMITH]