What is a "Designated Driver?"

  • Published
  • By Charles Cypher
  • 82nd Training Wing Safety Office
The principle is simple: one individual refrains from drinking alcoholic beverages to ensure the safe transportation home of the remaining guests.

At the next party, another person volunteers and the responsibility is rotated. In Sweden and the United Kingdom, where the practice originated, designated drivers place their car keys in their empty beverage glasses so they are not served.

Social drinkers, as well as alcoholics, are a menace behind the wheel. Young drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 are involved in more than one-third of all alcohol-related traffic accidents. These "social drinkers" are unable to drive responsibly because their judgment is impaired, reaction time is slowed and coordination is reduced. No one can drive skillfully and safely after consuming alcoholic beverages.

Alcohol is a depressant not a stimulant. It acts as an anesthetic to lower, or depress, the activity of the brain.

Alcohol is not digested; it is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Since the brain has a high degree of blood, it is affected quickly. The blood alcohol concentration creates the impairment of judgment and physical coordination. A person's BAC depends on:

· The number and strength of the drinks
· The time span of when the drinking began
· The individual's body weight
· The physical and mental condition of the individual
· The amount and type of food eaten
· The possibility of other drugs being present in the body

By learning to spot the following warning signs of an impaired driver, one can reduce the chances of becoming involved in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident:

· Unusually wide turns
· Straddling the center line or lane marker
· Driving with one's head out of the window or with the window down in cold weather
· Nearly striking an object or another vehicle
· Weaving or swerving
· Driving on something other than the designated roadway
· Stopping with no apparent purpose
· Following too closely
· Responding slowly to traffic signals
· Abrupt or illegal turns
· Rapid acceleration or deceleration
· Driving with headlights off at night

Make sure to use these tips when selecting a designated driver to ensure a safe evening of fun.