Someone dies every 51 minutes in the United States as a result of an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Further, the financial cost of such accidents is in excess of $59 billion annually. Drinking and driving is costly on myriad levels, but the worst part about it is that all of that loss can be easily prevented. If you plan on drinking, plan a way home. It’s just that simple. With all of the options at your disposal, there is no excuse to drink and drive.
Prior to a night out, discuss with your friends who will be the designated driver. Then, stick with the plan. If your designated driver ends up drinking, or otherwise becomes unavailable, have a backup plan. That can include everything from calling a family member to calling a cab. Before you leave the house, make sure you have the contact number to a reputable taxi service programmed into your phone. Of course, calling a cab isn’t the only option available to you. You can also schedule (and pay for) a ride using an app.
When you need a ride home, Uber is as easy as it gets. Available in hundreds of cities around the world, Uber is an app-based ride service similar in nature to a taxi. When you are ready to be picked up, you just request a ride through the downloaded app on your smartphone. Using GPS, the app will find your location, confirm it with you, give you an estimated ETA, and then all you have to do is wait. The beauty of Uber is that you can choose from a variety different vehicles, from standard to luxury, based on your budget and plans. Also, no cash changes hands with the driver. The payment is deducted from your credit card or PayPal account through the same app, and the drivers are not allowed to accept tips.
Touted as a ride-sharing service, Lyft offers three options: Lyft (up to three passengers), Lyft Plus (up to six passengers), and Lyft Line (sharing with people headed the same way). Each has its own price point, and Lyft Line is only available in select big cities. But, for the passenger, the procedure to request a ride is similar to that of Uber. You request a ride through a downloaded app, get an ETA (that can be tracked through your phone), wait for the ride, and make it home safely. Lyft drivers are also not allowed to take payments, as that is negotiated through the app.
Recently, ride service Uber partnered with Breathometer, a company that makes smartphone breathalyzers. Users who have downloaded the breathalyzer can check their blood alcohol content (BAC), and if it’s over the legal limit, they can schedule a ride with an Uber driver. Advancements in technology have now eliminated any excuse for drunken driving.
Drinking and driving results in thousands of deaths every year, and if you are the one held responsible for injury, damage or death, you could easily be paying for it the rest of your life. Countless drivers have been sued in court, and the judgments against them can reach into the millions of dollars, as in the example of Missouri’s Sansone & Lauber. Their attorneys sued a drunk driver on behalf of a victim, and won a $2.3 million settlement for their client.
To avoid the risk of injury or death to yourself and others, and the long term legal and financial impact such a choice can have, designate a driver before you head out to drink. If a designated driver isn’t available, call a friend, taxi, or ride share service. There is no valid excuse to drink and drive.