Road safety charity issues warning about the dangers of drink-driving this Christmas party season

As Christmas parties take place around the country, road safety charity Brake is appealing to partygoers and organisers to ensure everyone in their group gets to and from celebrations safely.

As work Christmas parties and other celebrations are in full swing, and with many people planning parties for this weekend, Brake is reminding everyone to plan their travel, and if driving to events, to make sure the designated driver stays sober.

Brake's Driving for Zero campaign urges drivers not to drink any amount of alcohol or take any drugs before getting behind the wheel. The charity is calling for zero tolerance of impaired driving and also urges family and friends to speak out and stop a loved one drink or drug driving.

Figures show that in 2016, alcohol and/or drugs was a factor in 80 fatal and 623 injury crashes resulting in 89 deaths and 863 injuries [1]. Research shows that drinking any amount of alcohol can affect your driving [2].

Caroline Perry, Brake's New Zealand director said: "As a charity that supports people bereaved and injured in crashes, we witness the suffering that drink and drug driving inflict, and appeal to everyone to help put a stop to it. Drink and drug driving deaths and injuries are cruel and needless, ending and ruining lives and leaving behind traumatised families to pick up the pieces.

"We want everyone to enjoy this holiday season and get to their destination safely. If you're driving home from celebrations, especially if you're a designated driver, it's vital you take your responsibility for people's safety seriously. It's a proven fact that even small amounts of alcohol or drugs inflate your risk of crashing. So even if you feel okay after a drink, the reality is that if you get behind the wheel you're putting yourself and others in needless danger."

Drivers with even 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood [3]. This is because even small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times, judgment and co-ordination [4]. Alcohol also makes it impossible for drivers to assess their own impairment because it creates a false sense of confidence and means drivers are more inclined to take risks and believe they are in control when they are not [5].

Brake's key messages on drink driving:

  • Never drink any amount of alcohol if you're driving
  • Never drink if you're driving early the next morning
  • Plan ahead and make sure you can get home safely by using public transport, booking a taxi, or having a sober driver who sticks to soft drinks. Don't accept a lift from someone who's been drinking.
  • Take responsibility for others: never buy a drink for someone who is driving, speak out to friends who plan to drink and drive, and if you're hosting a party help your guests to plan a safe way home before the party starts.

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