By anguillian December 19, 2016 11:03 Updated




As the Christmas season approaches, many of us look forward to spending time with family and friends, and this usually involves parties, good food and laughter. Unfortunately, this period is also marked with several individuals driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in road accidents and fatalities. Many of us in the health profession are aware of the negative effects of drinking and driving, sometimes making it difficult for us to have a peaceful and stress free Christmas season, but the effects of driving under the influence can be devastating – resulting in severe suffering to the driver, innocent victims, family members and friends.

Alcohol and driving
Consuming alcohol prior to driving greatly increases the risk of car accidents, highway injuries, and vehicular deaths. The greater the amount of alcohol consumed, the more likely a person is to be involved in an accident.
Driving a vehicle involves several skills. Drivers use their hands, eyes, and feet to control their vehicle; but their hands, eyes, and feet must be controlled by their brains. Safe driving requires alertness and the ability to make quick decisions in rapidly changing situations. Drinking alcohol can have a profound effect on driving skills. For example, drinking can have a negative effect on any of these skills such as reaction time where alcohol slows our reflexes, impairs our vision and concentration and reduces our eye, hand and foot coordination. Despite the evidence of increased vehicle accidents and road accidents and fatalities, and the increased awareness of the dangers of driving and drinking, this deadly act continues.

What can we do?
There are several things we can all do to decrease or prevent the number of individuals driving under the influence of alcohol. These can be divided under several headings for convenience, to include, hosts of parties, family members/friends, the drivers themselves, and finally members of the public.

Hosts of parties
In Anguilla,there are numerous parties during this time of the year, and in true Caribbean spirit there are large amounts of alcoholic drinks available at these parties. Hosts should encourage their guests to drink responsibly at all times. Hosts might find the following helpful when hosting parties:
• Have a designated sober driver. It is one of the simplest rules to follow, but also one of the most effective in keeping people safe on the roads.
• Know various taxi drivers. If someone should not be driving and he or she insists on going home after the party, call a taxi for him or her instead of allowing him or her to take the risk of driving home.
• Have available lots of non-alcoholic drinks. While many guests may want to enjoy the holidays with an alcoholic drink, offer non-alcoholic drinks as an option.
• Have a wide variety of healthy foods. Drinking on an empty stomach can cause a person to become intoxicated faster. Offering food along with drinks may help prevent guests from over-indulging on alcohol alone.

Role of family members and friends
Many of us can do more to prevent individuals driving under the influence of alcohol. Many of us know of family members who drink too much at holiday parties and do little or nothing about it. If we know someone who is drinking and driving take a firm stand. Offer to take your family member home after the party. If you know your son or daughter constantly uses alcohol, and drives after, offer to pick him or her after the party or arrange for him/her to get home.
Many friends are also aware that a person is not fit to drive and do little or nothing about it. If you are a true friend do what it takes to prevent an intoxicated friend from driving – whether it is by taking the keys, moving the vehicle so that he/she cannot find it, or driving him/her home or calling a taxi. Do not let your intoxicated friend drive!

The driver
If you know you are going to drink, make arrangements for someone who does not use alcoholic beverages to drive for you. No one is more responsible for preventing drunk driving than you, the driver. We are all aware of the dangers of drinking and driving. There is no excuse to do so.

Members of the public
Many members of the public see individuals driving in a reckless and dangerous way, often clearly driving under the influence of alcohol and do nothing about it.
If you see a person driving in such a way that he or she might be driving while intoxicated, call the police and report the suspicious behavior immediately. Give location, vehicle make and model, and license plate number whenever possible.

Despit increased public awareness programmes, many individuals continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol. The effects can be deadly. We must all increase our efforts to prevent individuals who drink fro m driving. As the Christmas season approaches let us all take steps to decrease the number of individuals who drive while under the influence of alcohol and other illegal drugs.

Ask Your Doctor is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. The reader should consult his or her physician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field are ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

Dr Brett Hodge MB BS DGO MRCOG, is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Family Doctor who has over thirty-two years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in The Johnson Building in The Valley (Tel: 264 4975828).

By anguillian December 19, 2016 11:03 Updated


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