Since this blog is going to be all about raising awareness for potential solutions to the various problem factors that often result in drunk driving and its tragic consequences, it seems appropriate for me to spend my first real post discussing some of the different transportation—from taxis, to designated drivers to limo services—alternatives that may just help save lives.
Here in Vegas and the surrounding area, you don’t have to look very hard to identify the different elements of the party-atmosphere that this city thrives upon, and while it can certainly be fun to participate in the multitude of entertainments and diversions the city has to offer, there’s nothing more sobering than poor judgment after a night of drinking and the potentially tragic results of impaired driving.
Last year, 30.2% of all traffic deaths involved instances of drunk driving, a horrifying number, especially when you think about all of the individual lives that were altered forever as a result of the decisions made. Fortunately, that number represents a 7.1% decrease from last year, and it is our firm hope (and steadfast goal) to keep marching that number ever closer to zero, where it belongs.
One of the best ways that we can all work together to achieve this goal is to make ourselves aware of transportation alternatives and dedicate ourselves to pursuing all other options that take drunk driving off the table, including:
- Designated Driving – This is the cheapest option out there, but this option can also present problems if the person who serves as designated driver has difficulty refraining from drinking once they actually get out to the bar. If you aren’t completely sure you can keep your promise to stay sober, just DON’T offer to drive for the rest of your friends. You’re not doing anyone a service if you promise to provide a safe ride and then fail to come through. If you drink at all, don’t drive. Be honest with your friends, giving yourself time to plan for alternative transportation options if necessary, so you will all be prepared for what the night will bring, and you’ll all get home safely.
- Taxi Services – There are a multitude of taxi services in Vegas and the surrounding area, and this is one of the main reasons they exist. While it’s not as cheap as some options, a cab fare certainly beats the price of DUI offenses ($1,000+ in fines, mandatory DUI School, 2 days-6 months in jail…), plus you can split the fare with your friends. Keep phone numbers for multiple taxi services saved in your cell phone in case it’s difficult to find one.
- Limousine Services – For those special occasions, you might even consider splurging for a fun night on the town in a fancy ride. One of the really nice bonuses for this option is that you’ll be covered for the whole night. You won’t have to worry about a designated driver or waiting for a cab, and you can have a really good time together in a souped-up luxury vehicle with a professional driver. So you’ll be safe on the road and you can just focus on having a good time with your friends.
- Phone a friend – Sometimes plans fall through (the designated driver fails to stay sober, you didn’t budget properly for the cab, etc.) and even though it’s not always fun to call a friend or family member to come pick you up from the bar, I guarantee you that every single person who cares about you would rather come help you out that have to consider the dangerous alternatives. Trust your friends to be there for you, and make sure you’re there for them too.
- Public transportation – Depending on where you are in Vegas, you may be able to take advantage of the public transportation offerings—often a cheaper option than taxi services
- Walking – Sometimes it’s even possible to choose a drinking establishment within walking distance of your home. Just be careful, always travel with a friend, and if you are a bit too tipsy it can even be dangerous to walk, so always play it safe and plan in advance your strategies for getting yourself and your friends safely home!
Remember, these helpful hints aren’t just useful if you’re the one enjoying a night out on the town with a few drinks; keep your friends and family accountable as well. Be engaged. Be a part of their lives, and when they are preparing to go out celebrating, make yourself a resource for them. Offer guidance—make sure they have the phone numbers for multiple taxi services, treat them with a limousine on their 21st, or even be there as a driver for them. It may sometimes mean sacrificing a bit of your free time or rearranging your plans, but the reward is priceless: you could be saving someone’s life.
There are also many other ways that you can get involved (many of which I’ll be discussing a bit more thoroughly in future blog posts).
Here are a few resources for those who need support or are looking to get involved in the fight against drunk driving:
Victim/Survivor 24-hour help line- 877.MADD.HELP
MADD website – www.MADD.ORG