"Intoxicated drivers and pedestrians pose a significant threat to other road users," says Automobile Association corporate affairs divisional manager Petro Kruger,
"The festive season is here, and the consumption of alcohol will increase dramatically during the next few weeks. Learners celebrate the end of their exams, employers host year-end parties for their staff, families and friends gather to celebrate the festive season, and alcohol flows freely.
"But alcohol influences our vision, judgment, balance and reaction time, and even only one drink can affect you."
The AA therefore advises drivers not to get behind a wheel if they have been drinking. Driving under the influence is illegal, and if you are involved in a crash while under the influence short-term insurers, life insurers and the Road Accident Fund may refuse to pay out any claim.
"If you have been drinking, there is no way to sober up quickly. The body?s liver dissipates alcohol at a rate of 0.02 mg per hour, so it is a fallacy that cold showers and black coffee will make you sober. Rather be smart, and avoid alcohol completely if you?re planning to drive," says Kruger.
If you?re hosting a party, the AA advises you to take responsibility for ensuring your guests return home safely.
"This can help prevent your friends, colleagues, loved ones and other road users from becoming the next alcohol-related statistic," says Kruger.
How you can help
There are also other things you can do to help ensure your guests have fun and live to remember it!
- Gather all car keys when guests arrive so that they will need a second opinion on their ability to drive home after the party.
- Make sure that you know who the designated drivers are and ensure they stay sober.
- Prepare for a few overnight guests.
- Invite guests who are compatible so that no one feels left out of the crowd. Lonely people often drink in excess.
- Prepare plenty of food so guests don?t drink on empty stomachs.
- Avoid lots of salty snacks, which tend to make people thirsty.
- Offer a variety of non-alcoholic beverages for the designated drivers and others who prefer not to drink alcohol.
- Don't force drinks on people. Drinking is not mandatory for having a good time.
- If you offer an alcoholic punch, use a non-carbonated base like fruit juice. Alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream more quickly with a carbonated base.
- Be honest when inviting guests who are known to drink in excess. Tell them that drinking and driving is unacceptable at your party and get them to agree to arrange a lift home or to spend the night.
- Don't let guests mix their own drinks; choose a reliable "bartender".
- If, despite your efforts, some of your guests have had too much to drive home, arrange for a ride with a sober friend, call a taxi, or invite them to stay over.
Remember, two beers may be one to many and could push you over the legal limit.
"When the legislation on smoking in public places came into effect, public opinion was that it was impractical and unachievable.
"Yet we have seen smokers voluntarily complying with the legislation, and it has become socially unacceptable to smoke in certain areas. We need to develop the same level of social unacceptability for drinking and driving, and get people to voluntarily comply with the law.
"Perhaps then we'll have fewer road fatalities in South Africa," says Kruger.
See more stroies in our Stay Alive section