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Experts Warn About Dangers of Holiday Drinking and Driving

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Government experts are urging people to learn the facts about drinking and driving, to prevent the surge of alcohol-related car accidents that occur every holiday season.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), last year 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, including 415 in the second half of December alone.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says alcohol interferes with a person’s coordination, driving skills and judgment, HealthDay reports. Drinking can cause people to lose control and become aggressive, which can in turn affect driving skills.

Drinking can affect the brain for hours, NIAAA notes, and may even influence a person’s driving the next morning. Caffeine won’t help to reduce the effects of alcohol on the body.

If you do decide to drink during the holidays, pace yourself, NIAAA recommends in its pamphlet, “Rethinking Holiday Drinking.” Don’t have more than one drink per hour, and make every other drink a nonalcoholic one. Pick a designated driver to get you home safely. A designated driver should be someone who has not had anything to drink, not just the person in your group who had the least to drink.

This week the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a nationwide crackdown on drunk driving this holiday season. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the education and enforcement initiative will include reminders to drivers that police and other agencies will be vigilant in seeking out drunk drivers.

The government is creating awareness of the dangers of drunk driving through the NHTSA’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” $7 million advertising campaign. The ads, which will run through January 2, portray drunk drivers being arrested.

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