Originally published Dec. 27, 2011
You will soon hit the highways visiting friends and family or you may drive to your favorite vacation home for a quick getaway during the holiday season. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Georgia Department of Public Safety want you to think twice about your overall health and safety on the road if you drink alcohol during the holidays.
Every Georgia driver needs to know that driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 grams or more will land you in jail or cost you approximately 10,000 for driving under the influence (DUI). More importantly, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is cautioning Georgians to drink responsibly to maintain optimal health and to reduce injury to yourself or others.
If you are curious as to why Georgia sets it BAC at 0.08, the answer may save your life. According to the Georgia Department of High Safety, “Critical driving skills like braking, steering, lane changing, depth of perception, judgment and response time are dramatically affected when your BAC reaches 0.08. These are the very skills needed to keep everyone safe on Georgia’s roads.” DPH does not want you to become a statistic, so don’t mix drinking and driving – ever.
Director of Public Information for the Georgia Department of Public Safety, Gordy Wright, told PHWEEK that last year the agency mobilized to set up 78 hour safety operations between the Christmas and New Year’s weekends. During those periods, there were 10 fatal crashes and fatalities with three of them involving alcohol, and one involving an intoxicated pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle. Moreover, there were 1,249 fatalities in Georgia last year involving motor vehicles.
Wright also told PHWEEK that during the Christmas and New Year’s weekends, state troopers and officers issued 269 DUI arrests in 2010.
“That’s 269 too many,” said Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., Georgia Department of Public Health. “Our main concern is to protect life and to prevent injury. We urge all citizens to think about their health and avoid injury during this holiday season.”
DPH is hoping this holiday season will be different for those drivers who choose to celebrate with alcoholic beverages. So, while you are making plans to have a jolly ol’ time during the holiday season, state agencies are making sure you arrive at your families, friends and vacation spots for the festivities. “Plan your holiday trips carefully, assign a sober designated driver in advance, buckle up and obey the posted speed limit,” expressed Wright.
You can give the gift of life as a Good Samaritan if you believe that a driver is impaired behind the wheel of a car. Call for help. Drivers should dial Star G-S-P (*477) on their cell phones to speak with the nearest Georgia State Patrol post.
DPH also wants to educate you about “Operation Zero Tolerance (OZT),” which started on December 16 and it will end on January 2. Be aware that law enforcement will be looking for any impaired drivers on Georgia’s roads.
It may not seem like much at first, but too much alcohol can reduce your driving ability and the safety of everyone on the road. Take heed and precaution. Let’s arrive safely and in good health and goodwill in 2012.