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December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month

During an average year, millions of Americans get behind the wheel while drunk or impaired, experts say.

Did you know that of the fatal crashes in 2010, the highest percentage of drunk drivers was for drivers ages 21 to 24 (34 percent), followed by ages 25 to 34 (30 percent) and 35 to 44 (25 percent)?

On December 1, 2010, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Proclamation stating that December would be observed as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. The proclamation focuses not only on the prevention of drinking and drugged driving, but the prevalence of “distracted driving” due to “electronic equipment and texting." The proclamation is a call for all individuals to practice safety by not getting behind the wheel impaired by alcohol and drugs, including those drugs prescribed by a medical provider.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the results of a nationwide survey related to impaired driving. The self-reporting survey concluded that “In an average year, 30 million Americans drive drunk, 10 million drive impaired by illicit drugs.” Thousands of people die due to the prevalence of drinking or drugged driving, and many innocent lives are shattered as a result. The ramifications don’t end with injury or family loss. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependencies “the annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than 51 million dollars.”  

“The Putnam County Communities That Cares Coalition is dedicated to preventive measures geared towards reducing the intake of alcohol and illicit drugs, especially to protect our youth. This includes reckless or negligent behavior when using prescribed medication. This is not only a local priority, but a national concern as well," said Joseph DeMarzo, Deputy Commissioner of Putnam County Mental Health, Social Services and Youth Bureau.

“The prevention of debilitated driving, whether it is from substance use or distracted driving is imperative at any time. That being said, the holiday season is a time when more gatherings take place and traveling is sometimes inevitable. We encourage individuals to utilize public transportation should they drink or use medication. It will protect you, your family, and the community as a whole,” said Elaine Santos, Putnam County Communities That Care Coalition Coordinator.  

Mothers Against Destructive Decisions (MADD) Tips for Residents :        

  • Designate a sober driver before celebrations begin.
  • Never serve those under the age of 21 alcohol.
  • Plan safe parties, including providing non-alcoholic drink options to guests and not serving alcohol the last hour of the gathering.
  • Be prepared to get everyone home safe in case your plans or individual circumstances change.

Members of the Putnam CTC Coalition are available if you have any questions or would like for us to do a presentation to your organization on this or any other substance abuse trends that affect our children. Please visit and join us on Facebook by searching “Putnam County Communities That Care – NY” or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/PutnamCTCNY or call 845-225-4646.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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