Safety advice for celebration during the holidays

Drinking alcohol and driving never mix, ever.

With the party-laden holiday season upon us, we need to remind ourselves that despite the continued drop in drunken driving deaths, Iowa was recently rated 11th in the nation for the highest number of drunken drivers per capita, with up to 16.9 percent of Iowa drivers indicating they had driven under the influence in the past year.

This reckless behavior not only includes drunk driving, but also the growing problem of drugged driving. Drugs, including those prescribed by a physician, can impair judgment and motor skills.

As responsible citizens we must not wait until tragedy strikes; we must take an active role in preventing drunk or drugged driving.

If you are hosting a celebration where alcohol will be served this holiday season, here are a few tips to ensure guests have a good time and get home safely:

• Serve food before beginning to serve drinks.

• Push snacks. Make sure that people are eating.

• Be sure to offer a variety of attractive non-alcoholic drinks.

• Remember that over-consumption of highly-caffeinated alcoholic beverages can lead to unpredictable and dangerous behavior.

• Respect and support each person’s choice not to drink.

• Make sure that no one under the age of 21 drinks any alcoholic beverages.

• Decide when you want the party to end and stop serving alcohol well before that time.

• Don’t ever let your friends drink and drive. Take their keys, have them stay the night, have them ride home with someone else, call a cab or do whatever is necessary, but don’t let them drive.

Following these hosting guidelines will help all of us have a joyful, peaceful and safe 2011.

Preventing the loss of life by ensuring that our family and guests remain sober, drug-free and safe on the road is everyone’s responsibility.