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Forethought needed for safe celebrations

Posted on December 21, 2016 by Taber Times

But…it is a word people often use when they are about to make one of the biggest mistakes of their lives as they celebrate with good food, good friends and good libations during the holiday season.

‘But, I needed my car in the morning for work.’ ‘But it is just so cold outside.’ ‘But, I paced myself throughout the night.’ ‘But I just didn’t have enough money for a cab.’ ‘But, it was so far to walk.’ ‘But, I didn’t want to impose.’

There are any number of wrong reasons or excuses a person makes for themselves when they jump into a car having consumed multiple alcoholic beverages in family Christmas gatherings, office parties, or ringing in the New Year. Those excuses may still very well get the person home safe and unscathed, but why one would take that risk is still mind boggling, given the possible consequences.

As with every Christmas season, the Taber Police Service, Taber/Vauxhall RCMP and every other law enforcement agency for that matter make it very clear that they ramp up the Checkstop season in December.

Despite a person having so many options to get home safely after celebrating, there is that real chance that if people choose to take the most dangerous option of all, they will lose their licence for a year.

Or worse yet, cause bodily injury or death to themselves, their loved ones or complete strangers, where there will not only be the emotional toll, but a possible civil lawsuit toll as well.

If you are within town limits for Taber or Vauxhall, there is literally no place that is not within 20 minutes or so which a brisk walk can reach.
Check the weather report before you depart for your celebration, short of provincial weather warnings of extreme wind chill, we are hardy Canadians. Bring some extra layers of clothing to match the weather report and get walking. Within small rural towns, there is no such thing as ‘too far away’ to walk.

Set money aside that you will not spend on the night for cab fare home and have the cab number in your wallet or pre-programmed in your phone. This is Taber we are speaking about, where a ride is likely going to cost less than $10 (going to Vauxhall will be more). If you don’t have the funds, ask a friend and pay them back later. If you have funds for food and liquor, crying poverty for a cab ride home is not an excuse.

You need your car in the morning? Find a friend or family member that you can hitch a ride with to your destination.

If there is a non-drinker in the group for your celebration, inquire if you can get transportation to and from the party beforehand. If someone else is driving, you go when they want to leave the party, not you, that is the price of a safe ride home.

If there is any doubt, ask your friend or family member if you can crash on the couch, a good family member or friend will say yes without a moment’s hesitation.

It seems like common sense on the multitude of ways you can celebrate the holidays safely and yet Canadians do not seems to have any sense at all when it comes to drinking and driving internationally.

Despite years of public messaging about the dangers of drinking and driving, Canada ranks No. 1 among 19 wealthy countries for percentage of roadway deaths linked to alcohol impairment, according to a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Canada is above the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, Slovenia, France, Belgium, Finland, Sweden and Netherlands.

The study found that while fewer people were dying from motor vehicle crashes in Canada (the crash death rate in 2013 was 5.4 per 100,000 people, a drop of 43 per cent from 2000), the proportion of deaths linked to alcohol impairment was 34 per cent, higher than any of the other countries in the survey.

Every reason why you may make that decision to jump into a car to drive after multiple drinks is just an excuse after not enough pre-planning. People spend so much time putting up their Christmas tree, decorating their house, putting the lights up, shopping and cooking this Christmas season, why not spare a few extra minutes to plan to celebrate properly and responsibly?

Those few minutes of forethought may just ensure everyone has a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a festive start to the New Year, all safe and sound.

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