Know the Risks and Stay Safe
We are all starting to enjoy a bit of good weather (finally!) and we can all hear the illustrious call of the beer garden. It's the perfect weather for a pint bottle with ice in a beer garden with friends after work, just as a reward for making it through yet another work day.
Think carefully before you head for the bar and order your drink if you have to drive home. We all know that it's thought that one drink won't hurt and is considered to be socially acceptable, but under new laws passed in October 2011, the drink driving limit has been considerably reduced, therefore increasing your risk of being deemed over the limit.
The existing law stated that the limit for alcohol to be detected in your blood stream was 80 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood. The new law has reduced this significantly to 50 milligrams per 100 milliliters of blood. If you are a learner driver, a new or 'novice' driver, or drive for a living, the limit is even lower, only 20 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood.
So with these new limits in mind, be wary that your usual couple of pints or your chosen drink may bring you closer to the new drink driving limit and land you a fine, arrest or worse if caught. Penalties for drink driving range from 1-6 years disqualification (depending on the amount of alcohol found in your system), a fixed penalty fine on the spot, and points on your license. How would you feel if you lost your license and were unable to work, earn money and support yourself? These consequences can be devastating for people and families let alone if you cause an accident.
How to stay safe
Assign a designated driver
The designated driver plays an important role in keeping everyone safe by abstaining from alcohol for that event. There is no stigma to abstaining because the designated driver is considered an important member of the group. Being a designated driver can also help legitimize a personal choice not to drink and gives you moral high-ground the next morning to wake up without a hangover!
In addition to being or using a designated driver, you can save lives by taking car keys from intoxicated people to prevent them from being drunk drivers. Designated drivers can help save lives on the roads by eliminating the amount of people illegally drink driving.
Keep an eye out for the designated driver campaigns run by the RSA and Coca-Cola around Christmas time and other seasonal events. This allows you to avail of free non-alcoholic beverages as a reward for being the driver, its not all bad not drinking then!
Watch out for the morning after, although you may feel fine, for every one unit of alcohol you consume, it takes approximately one hour to work its way out of your system, so if you have a late night, not much sleep and quite a lot to drink, the alcohol will still be in your system the next morning. Make sure you do not attempt to drive if you are at the risk of being over the limit and make sure you have your wits about you before getting behind the wheel. If your reactions are slightly impaired due to a late night and alcohol, you may not see that child crossing at the zebra crossing or that red light.
Summer events and sports
Whether you are heading off to a summer music festival or sporting event, we all have to stay safe in the sun as alcohol dehydrates your body. Don't be fooled into thinking that a cold pint of larger will hydrate you. Alcohol thins your blood and blocks the release of antidiuretics making your body get rid of too much water and increased dehydration. Drink a pint of water in between each alcoholic drink to prevent dehydration and make sure you drink at your own pace. Everyone's bodies react differently to alcohol, so just because your friends are drinking lots of pints, you don't have to!
If you play sports, remember that alcohol can affect your performance and safety. Alcohol slows your nerves down, giving you that nice relaxed feeling when you are drinking, and although it's absorbed quickly into your blood stream, the affects take longer to wear off. This can affect your balance, accuracy, co-ordination and will leave you feeling and performing below par if the affects have not completely worn off. This can leave you susceptible to injury during your sport as well.
Overall, stay safe on the roads and the best advice possible is never ever drink and drive, alcohol and driving do not mix and the laws are put in place for a reason, to protect you and others using the road. Also, never get into a car with someone whom you have known to be drinking alcohol; you have a choice and it is always ok to say no.