Oh, January. If you’ve been around the block a few times, there are a few things you probably expect to see each January; dozens of new gym-goers who will mysteriously disappear by February, 100 influencer ins-and-outs lists, and a promise from your least disciplined friend that they won’t touch even a single drop of alcohol this January. Well, here’s what’s really in: not judging strangers at the gym and supporting your friends’ goals. And here’s what’s really out: drink driving.
Did you know that people aged 20-29 account for more drink driving accidents than any other age group? According to the Department for Transport, young people were involved in 1,360 drink driving-related injuries and fatalities in 2021.
It’s not hard to see why: being at university with fresh access to alcohol whenever you want means we make some decisions that are not smart. Go to that party, get drunk, I mean, everyone else is doing it, now what? You have to get home somehow.
Young people, especially students, are put in this position more often than anyone would like to admit. A 2019 study conducted by UK-based alcohol awareness group Drinkaware found that 47% of surveyed drinkers between the ages of 18-34 felt pressure to do so to “keep up”, and 22% felt mocked by peers for abstaining from alcohol. Simply put: a lot of us are drinking even if we don’t want to or don’t think we should.
That does not always mean you’ll drink and drive, though, does it? Research by THINK!, which re-launched its Mates for Life campaign against drink driving in 2023, shows that eight in 10 young men agree that drink driving is unacceptable under any circumstance. By contrast, however, the same study found that a third of this surveyed group would feel uncomfortable telling a friend not to drink and drive.
It’s hard to tell someone you love that they’re being stupid but if you care about them, you have to. An estimated 260 people died of drink driving collisions in 2021.
Let us not forget to mention the severe consequences drink driving can have in the eyes of the law. Even just testing above the legal limit (0.08% by the way; this can be just two pints at the pub) can land you six months in prison, and hurting someone while over the limit can net you life imprisonment, unlimited fines, and an extended driving ban.
THINK!’s Mates for Life campaign slogan says it all: “a mate doesn’t let a mate drink and drive”. If being a buzzkill saves your bud from being killed, then that’s worth a bit of killed buzz.
No judgement here if January is the end of your dry spell, but leave the keys at home. Get an Uber, find a designated driver, or settle in under your friend’s mum’s kitchen island and get some shut-eye. Just don’t get behind the wheel. Your life, and the lives of others, might just depend on it.