The month of December has been known as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month since 1981. According to the American Public Health Association, the period of time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day is considered the most dangerous time on American roadways due to impaired driving.

The Consequences Of Impaired Driving

Driving while under the influence puts the driver, their passengers, and everyone else on the highway at risk of serious injuries or death. As many as 1200 people die per year during the holidays in automobile accidents involving impairment. As much as 40 percent of traffic-related deaths are a result of drunk drivers during the holiday season, and the rest of the year, impaired driving can be blamed for about 28 percent.

A Look at the Effects Alcohol Has On The Body

About 50 percent of people surveyed claim that alcohol is part of their holiday festivities. Even though alcohol is one of the most commonly accepted substances for recreational use, it still has detrimental effects in the short term and long term on the body.

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol Use

In general, the body can handle about one alcoholic drink per hour without becoming intoxicated (like one beer or one glass of wine), but the metabolic rate can change according to things like gender, body weight, and other factors. Some of the most common short-term effects of alcohol consumption include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor judgment or lack of inhibition
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Changes in coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Passing out
  • Dehydration

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Use

Regular consumption of alcohol, especially if an individual drinks a lot of alcohol at one time or daily for a long period, can lead to negative effects on the body and the mind. Some of the common long-term effects of alcohol use include:

  • Diminished gray and white matter in the brain
  • Problems with poor concentration and memory loss
  • Difficulty with learning
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat and other cardiovascular problems
  • A higher risk of stroke
  • A higher risk of certain types of cancer, such as colorectal, breast, and liver cancer
  • Liver damage or liver fibroids

Help Raise Awareness for National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

Alcohol consumption, in moderation, if you are not driving may be fine on occasion. However, drinking alcohol when you know you have to drive is a dangerous, irresponsible decision. Many people don't realize how much alcohol they consume, and many people assume they are still fine to drive even though they have probably had too much to drink. Remember:

  • 1 in 8 people who consume alcohol say that have driven when they believe they could be over the legal limit
  • It is easy to consume more alcohol than you think you do at a social gathering, especially with mixed drinks you're not making
  • Driving while impaired is not just dangerous, but also illegal and punishable with stiff penalties like fines, jail time, or licensure suspension

For more information about the dangers of driving while impaired, check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website for infographics, videos, and more. In observance of December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, don't forget to pass along stats and figures, share infographics on social media, and talk to your family members throughout the holidays about the dangers involved.