Alcohol Awareness: Don’t Drink and Drive

As one from a big city, I had never heard of Road Tripping until I moved to a rural area. Road tripping is a form of entertainment in which one drinks and drives on country roads. Apparently, this is an activity that people find fun and is done either alone or with friends. The assumption is that road trippers enjoy their alcohol while taking in the scenery, while getting out of the house. And because it is illegal to drink and drive, they abandon their cans or bottles as they drive to limit the chances of being caught with an open bottle in the car.

When I’ve asked why people do this, a quick response is that there is nothing else for young people to do. And it isn’t just young people. I’ve heard of adults in their 50’s road tripping. Why not stay in their own home to drink?

My best guess about this phenomenon is twofold: Anonymity and Social Acceptance.

Anonymity: There are hundreds of miles of country roads here that offer some measure of protection from being seen. Chicago just doesn’t have these beautiful country roads.

Social Acceptance: This activity has been going on for multiple generations and has become a socially acceptable phenomenon.

The negative consequences of alcohol and drug abuse affect all people in our community. What may seem like a good time and harmless fun can have a devastating impact on everyone. In 2009, there were 911 traffic deaths in Illinois. Of those, 35% were alcohol related. About three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is a risky thing to do. Even small quantities of alcohol can significantly impair driving ability. You do not need to be “drunk” to be dangerous. Judgment is the first to go, even at just .02 BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) the brain becomes sedated, causing poor judgment in that drivers will overestimate their skills and make poor decisions. At .05 BAC 30% of a driver’s side vision is lost which slows reaction time. At .08 BAC there is difficulty performing gross motor skills with resulting uncoordinated behavior. Safe driving requires split-second decisions. Impaired drivers are unable to react quickly to emergency situations. The only truly safe BAC is 0 percent.

1. If you think that you can “hold your liquor,” and therefore can drive safely you’ve already built a tolerance to alcohol. This is a symptom of an alcohol problem and you should never drink and drive.

2. Use your imagination to find a hobby or develop a new interest. If there are truly no activities that interest you, talk to your community leaders to develop new programs. Get involved.

3. Don’t accept irresponsible behavior in others. Challenge the belief that road tripping is an acceptable form of entertainment.


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