Six key drink driving learnings from an IAM RoadSmart newbie

Blog post posted on 13/12/17 |

I joined IAM RoadSmart’s Marketing & Communication department recently. I’m in my third week now and have already learnt an incredible amount about driving. As I settle into the team, I’ve been asking the experts lots of questions, including some on issues that, even as a driver of over 2 years, I genuinely wasn’t too sure about.

As an example, there were over 8,000 casualties as a result of drink driving in 2015, which is insane.

So, today I wanted to share my learnings on drink driving – a critical issue in the run up to Christmas and the New Year. And one that’s particularly relevant to drivers throughout the party season.

Contributing factors

Although it may sound obvious, I’ve learned that it’s not just the strength or the number of drinks that you need to consider. Contributing factors such as medication and general health can also have a detrimental affect on the way alcohol is processed in your body. Before joining IAM RoadSmart I am not sure I had really considered this. I’ll be sure to spread the message from now on!

Driving the morning after

I’ve heard a few myths like eating bread or a big breakfast the morning after a night out to help you sober up. Or drinking a strong cup of coffee to start the day. Surely these will help ease the headache and help you with your drive to work? Well, absolutely not! It may ease the headache, but that’s about it. The scary thing is that all these suggestions that friends and family innocently give you to help you feel better are completely untrue. They just give you a false sense of security. So I will now be telling everyone I know to ignore all the rumours they’ve heard. The only thing that will allow you to drive under the drinking limit is time.

I’ve learned that a good rule of thumb is to allow an hour per unit of alcohol and then add another hour for absorption. So, if you’ve drank 10 units of alcohol, that’s 11 hours of no driving, and that’s after you’ve had your last drink.

There are some great morning after calculators you can use to see if you’re still over the limit to give you peace of mind that you’re not drink driving.

Know your limits

Again this may be an obvious one, but some people can feel pressured into drinking more than they should just so they can keep up with friends. But your body can react differently from someone else’s, even though you’ve drank the same amount.

It’s now easier than ever to keep track of how many units you’ve been drinking. You can download apps which are perfect for keeping an eye on your alcohol intake as the night goes on. Without this, calculating the number of units you’ve had can be pretty tricky, as you may not know the exact Alcohol by Volume of what you’re drinking. So the apps can really help.

What’s illegal?

I occasionally enjoy a glass of wine (or two) after I’ve had a stressful day or if I’m meeting friends for a catch up. But I always ensure I am not driving when I do.

But I’ve now discovered that you don’t actually have to behind the wheel of a moving car to be charged with drink driving. Even popping to your stationary vehicle to get your jacket when you’ve got alcohol in your system can result in you being charged. So I now know it’s best to avoid being anywhere near your car when you’re over the limit.

Life without a car

I love my independence so I’d be lost without my car. I’d have to train it to work (and I’m not the biggest fan of trains). If I couldn’t drive to work, I wouldn’t be able to sing out loud to the radio to my heart’s content on my journey!

Many people who are banned from driving with a drink driving criminal conviction never thought in a million years that it would happen to them. But I have discovered from colleagues in our drink-drive rehabilitation team that when it does, it can seriously affect their self-esteem. Their relationships deteriorate from the stress of the situation and the loss of independence is extreme. Family members can also suffer with children missing out on visiting.

So, how would you cope without your vehicle? It’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?

How can you avoid all this?

It’s simple – plan ahead. If you are going to have alcohol, plan in advance how you’re going from A to B and organise your journey home. This could be by pre-booking a taxi, staying in a hotel or having a designated driver, who can benefit initiatives like Coca Cola’s buy 1 get 1 free scheme. And if you are drinking, always take into consideration how long the alcohol will be in your system before you drive the next day.

Or, even better, #NoneForTheRoad.

By Junique Aujla, IAM RoadSmart digital marketing executive