Christmas may be the season of goodwill, relaxing and getting together with family and friends, but it's also one of the most dangerous times on our roads. In fact the Australian Transport Safety Bureau tell us that more passengers, women and children under 15 are killed during Christmas holidays than at any other time of the year.
One of the biggest causes of road crashes at this, or any other time, is alcohol. It's only natural that most of us let our hair down over the festive season and quite a few of us relax with one or one-too-many drinks. But that's no excuse for driving when you've had a few, and you can bet your licence that the police will be out looking for drink drivers over the holidays.
Drinking and driving at any time is really inexcusable. One of the keys to staying safe on the road over the festive season is to use a designated driver. Now on the face of it being a designated driver over Christmas doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun does it? Everyone's getting loose and having fun except you, the sober, designated driver. But if you have that responsibility you can rest assured that there are many benefits.
Firstly, your body will thank you for it. Alcohol potentially damages just about every organ in the body. Unlike your boozy workmates, you'll wake up in the morning feeling great.
Secondly, you won't be the subject of office jokes about bad singing, drunken remarks, bad behaviour or dodgy text messages. Drunken behaviour at office Christmas parties can have serious consequences, but you won't have to worry.
Thirdly, your friends and workmates will really love you for putting your hand up and volunteering for the task. The boss will be very impressed.
If you're planning a party or get-together over Christmas then it's wise to choose a designated driver beforehand. The "skipper" should be given free non alcoholic drinks. Responsible pubs and bars will provide free soft drinks to identified designated drivers. Many venues will allow you to register as a designated driver and give you some form of visible ID so you can be given free soft drinks.
If you're the designated driver then you have a certain right to wallow in a self righteous glow of inner goodness, but there are a few things you have to keep in mind if you're the skipper.
1. Don't drink
Sounds obvious doesn't it? But perhaps you're thinking "well one won't hurt". But of course one drink can lead to another in a party atmosphere. So just don't start.
2. Decide the guest list
Sort out who's coming with you before the boozing begins and make sure there are no more passengers than there are seatbelts in the vehicle. It might be an idea to organise a bigger vehicle for the night if there's a few of you.
3. Keep some plastic bags and water in the car
Because some people really, really over-do it at Christmas.
4. Write down their addresses
Just in case they over-do it get their addresses before they start drinking and become a little too tired and emotional.
5. You make the rules
Some people can get a little obnoxious when they've had a few too many. Just don't take any nonsense from them – it's your car, you're the driver and you're making the rules. If they're impossibly awkward and annoying call a taxi for them and let them sort it out.