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9 tips to help reduce intoxicated driving risks during the holidays

December 20, 2016

Festive, work-related events require attention from employers.

Andy Peterson

Commercial Auto Segment Director, Risk Engineering

As the Commercial Auto Segment Director for Risk Engineering at Zurich in North America, Andy... About this expert

server and drink

The news in 2016 has been filled with stories about Pokémon Go and various other activities that can result in distracted driving. We hope these stories have pushed companies to work on managing distracted driving risks in their operations. However, as we approach the holiday season, it’s a good time to focus more on “buzzed” and drunken driving risks. While parties and other seasonal festivities are great opportunities for families, friends and co-workers to get together, they can also increase risks for your business and employees when alcohol is part of the celebration.

Drunk driving and your employees
While traffic fatalities involving alcohol have been reduced by nearly half in the past 35 years, there are still far too many. Nationally in 2015, 35,092 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes and 29 percent (10,265) died in crashes, where a driver had a blood alcohol concentration over the limit of .08.

Of course, no business wants its employees to drive while impaired. Companies can take some steps to help keep things on the right track throughout the holiday season.

Consider sharing these suggestions from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with your employees:

  • Plan ahead: If you will be drinking, plan on not driving. Plan your safe ride home before the party starts. Designate a sober driver ahead of time.
  • Commit to not drive "buzzed" or drunk: If you become intoxicated, do not drive for any reason. Call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member or use public transportation.
  • Watch out for others: If someone you know has been drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. Take their keys, take them home or help them arrange a safe way home.
  • Be a good neighbor: If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact your local law enforcement. Your actions could help save someone’s life.

Companies can share these messages with their employees and encourage them to follow the tips by promoting a "Safe Driving Pledge" or asking employees to share their plans for getting to and from a company holiday party. Helping employees consider alternate options is a good way to help raise awareness of drunken driving issues.

It may also be appropriate to remind employees who drive company-provided vehicles or their own vehicles on company business that driving while intoxicated may risk their driving privileges with your company and may affect their job.

Holiday parties and employer liability
Aside from the individual driver risks, companies that host holiday parties where alcohol is consumed may face liquor liability issues if they fail to plan and manage the events properly. Here are some tips to help reduce that risk:

  • Hold the party at an off-site commercial venue rather than your place of business.
  • Have a written and signed contract with the venue that specifically states that the venue is providing a bartender who has received TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) or similar training.
  • Consider limiting alcohol to two drinks. Some companies use tools like "drink tickets" to manage this.
  • Beer and wine are generally lower in alcohol content than mixed drinks; consider limiting alcoholic drink selections.
  • Provide transportation or help attendees plan for safe transportation options.

Plan ahead and communicate to help your employees and your company enjoy a happy holiday season!