Drinking and driving are a problem all year around. But it becomes even a bigger issue at holiday time when so many people are out celebrating. Talk to your employees about their safety this holiday season.
‘Tis the Season to Celebrate Responsibly
December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, which makes it a good time to give your employees a brief reminder of the dangers of driving after imbibing. Begin with the bottom line by making sure employees know when they’ve had too much to drink.
For example, do they think they’re OK to drive if they can speak without slurring their words and are not acting abnormally? Not so, according to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA — www.niaaa.nih.gov), which states that "the skills and coordination needed for driving are compromised long before the obvious signs of intoxication are visible."
Furthermore, emphasize to your employees that drinking a cup of strong coffee will not sober them up enough to drive, because caffeine "doesn’t counteract the effect of alcohol on decision-making or coordination. The body needs time to metabolize (break down) alcohol and even more time to return to normal."
While you’re on the topic of drinking and driving, you can also touch on alcohol in general. Your employees probably know that excessive alcohol consumption is bad for their health. But do they know how much is too much?
According to the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com), too much is more than two drinks a day for men under the age of 65 and one drink a day for women and men over the age of 65. And what constitutes one drink? One drink = 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits.
So if employees stick to the moderate drinking listed above, can alcohol actually be good for them? Again according to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol in moderation may reduce one’s risk for heart disease, strokes, gallstones, and diabetes.
In the end, it’s up to employees to decide whether to drink alcohol in moderation. But let them know about these other precautions to help them make their decision. Medical professionals recommend that people who have the following health conditions should avoid alcohol:
- A history of a hemorrhagic stroke
- Liver disease
- Pancreatic disease
- Evidence of precancerous changes in the esophagus, larynx, pharynx, or mouth
Likewise, people who are taking the following medications should avoid alcohol:
- Diabetes medications
- Antiseizure medications
- Beta blockers
- Pain relievers
- Sleeping pills
If your employees are still unclear about their health and alcohol, encourage them to consult with their medical professional to assess their personal situations.
Why It Matters
- Recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA — www.nhtsa.gov) revealed that in a 12-hour period from 6:00 p.m. New Year’s Eve to 6:00 a.m. New Year’s Day, 135 people died in alcohol-related car crashes.
- That’s more than 5 people every minute!
- In addition to possibly leading to addiction, drinking too much alcohol can cause various cancers, including mouth, liver, and breast, pancreatitis, heart muscle damage leading to heart failure, stroke, brain damage, cirrhosis of the liver, miscarriage, and fetal alcohol syndrome.