Holiday season brings awareness for auto accidents

The holiday season is known for friends and family coming together in good cheer, but it can also be responsible for tragic accidents if careful driving is not exercised.

Since 1981, December has represented taking a stand against impaired driving through its month-long event, National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

“We have seen too many lives cut short by impaired driving, and too many drivers continue to put themselves and others at risk every day,” said U.S. President Donald Trump in a proclamation Nov. 30. “During National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, we reemphasize that impaired driving is never acceptable.”

Impaired driving involves more than drunk driving, said UNA Police Chief Kevin Gillilan.

“Impaired driving takes several forms, such as driving without adequate rest for those traveling long distances, driving under the influence of alcohol, under the influence of drugs or medication or a combination,” he said. 

Gillilan said student drivers should also not allow technology to distract them while on the road.

“Many accidents, injuries and fatalities result from driving under the influence of technology, such as texting or cell phone usage,” he said. “A momentary loss of attention or minor impairment can result in tragedy.”

Students should drive safe because of the effect an impaired driving accident would have on both their family and holiday, said freshman Haleigh Vinzant.

“A lot of people really value their holidays and to have someone get hurt in (an impaired) driving accident is one thing that would really kill that holiday for that family,” she said.

Because of the amount of parties going on during the holidays, alcohol is a major factor to the increased risk of impaired driving, said sophomore Justin Husser.

“Overall, just plan ahead,” he said. “If you know you’re going to be drinking where you’re going, have a designated driver and a location that would be safe for you to go after you’re done drinking.”

Husser said if a designated driver is unavailable, try and get a taxi service.

He said while he does not drink himself, his family has a safe system for holiday drinking.

“If they drink, they’ll mix it up (by having) a drink or two, then a water bottle,” he said. “One partner will drink, and the other partner will be the designated driver, or, if they don’t plan on leaving at all, they’ll spend the night there, depending on where the party’s at.”

Gillilan said students should be cautious of others on the road during the holidays and report any unsafe drivers.

“On behalf of UNAPD, I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season, safe travels (and) look forward to a happy new year,” he said.