Holiday Cheer: Keeping your Friends and Family Safe this Holiday Season

Written by Kelley Dupps, MADD Arizona Program Specialist. We are excited to partner with MADD Arizona to help raise awareness about making sure everyone arrives safely at their destination and also talking to children in your life about alcohol.

The Holiday Season has arrived and with it, joyous celebrations and holiday cheer! Many of these celebrations will involve alcoholic beverages and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) of Arizona has a few tips to ensure that everyone arrives safely at their destinations and steers clear of tragedy.

MADD Arizona encourages Arizonans to plan ahead for a safe way home before holiday celebrations. Designating a sober driver is the best way to ensure everyone arrives home from holiday celebrations safely. Data show that the five weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day are some of the most dangerous times to be on Arizona’s roads – and the trends are getting worse in recent years.

Last year in Arizona, more than 265 people were killed — 41 of those were killed during the five weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day — in alcohol-related crashes where a driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. The average BAC of the more than 32,000 people arrested in Arizona for DUI was 0.157 – nearly DOUBLE the legal limit. Although the “legal BAC limit” is set at .08, Arizona has a zero-tolerant policy when it comes to DUI. You can be arrested for DUI by being “impaired to the slightest degree”. By designating a sober driver, these worries will not dampen the holiday spirit.

Here are some tips to ensure all your family and friends are safe this season:

  • The safest driver is always a sober one.
  • Plan a way to arrive safely at all your holiday destinations before the festivities begin.
  • Offer your guests non-alcoholic beverage options.
  • Time is the only thing that will make someone sober.

The holidays are also about the joys children have during this time of year. The lights. The tree. The spiked egg nog. Not all holiday cheer is meant for kids and parents have a perfect opportunity to talk to their kids about alcohol.

Nearly 75% of kids report that their #1 influence is their parents when it comes to their decisions about alcohol. Parents have a tremendous amount of influence and having conversations with the kids in your life about alcohol has been shown to prevent or decrease underage drinking by up to 40%. Since the average age of when kids start trying alcohol in Arizona is 12 years old – your average 6th grader. We are working to raise the next generation of designated drivers – not the next generation of drunk

Research has proven that having conversations with the kids in your life actually makes a difference. Here are some suggestions for starting (and continuing) these important conversations:

  • Communicate before a problem starts. Have important discussions now, before there is blaming, anger or punishments.
  • Discuss rules and consequences. Explain how you expect your child to act and why.
  • Show you care. Tell your child that you love them and want them to be healthy and safe – that’s why it’s important to talk about underage drinking.
  • Pay attention. Even when life gets hectic, take time out to listen to your kid.
  • Share family activities. Have dinner together. Game night once a week. Movie night. Engage the whole family and bring everyone together. These activities strengthen bonds and research shows us that kids who are more connected to their parents are less likely to use alcohol or drugs.
  • Give and get respect. Listen when your kid talks to you and reply respectfully. Insist that your child also treat you with respect.
  • Enforce consequences. If rules are broken, stay calm and enforce the consequences that you’ve all talked about before.

MADD Arizona wishes everyone a wonderful holiday and a prosperous and safe New Year!