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NEWS | Dec. 5, 2013

Safety, health officials promote responsible driving during holidays

By Alex Salinas Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

As the holiday season is in full swing and many people celebrate it by taking vacation, travelers and others often cram onto the roadways, making them potentially dangerous places to be if drivers are not extra careful.

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month - which raises awareness on drunken and drugged driving - and Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph health and safety officials advised drivers to keep alcohol and drugs out of their system, considering 1.2 million people were arrested for being under the influence of both in 2011, according to the FBI.

"When a person plans to drive, no alcohol is appropriate since judgment decreases once alcohol consumption begins," Master Sgt. Jennifer Hoag, 359th Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health Flight superintendent, said.

In 2004, the Air Force developed the 0-0-1-3 program: zero underage drinking offenses, zero drinking and driving incidents (DUIs), one drink per hour and three drinks per evening - even at house parties.

But most importantly, "if members plan to drive, zero drinks," Tech. Sgt. Cathy Zimmerman, 502nd Air Base Wing ground safety technician, said. "If they are going out in a group or to meet a group, the $30 or so for a cab is a lot cheaper than thousands of dollars or even possibly the life they could lose in choosing to drink and drive."

The Air Force implements a zero tolerance policy for alcohol/drug intake and driving because "it is a preventable issue when individuals have plans in place," Hoag said.

Drugged driving includes driving under the influence of over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs or narcotics.

Research shows that drugs, even those prescribed by a physician, can impair perception, judgment, motor skills and memory, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Additionally, alcohol and drug abuse is not corralled to a specific age group, Hoag said, so stopping it from happening may come down to having a strong support system via being a good wingman.

"The wingman concept should not be focused on preventing negative consequences, but to actually promoting more healthy behaviors and lifestyles," she said. "If an individual focuses on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, then driving impaired and other negative behaviors will not be an issue."

"Be there to look out for one another, to essentially have each other's back," Zimmerman said. "No amount of alcohol or drugs is worth losing a career or a life over."

To eliminate DUI/DWI in the local area, JBSA operates Armed Forces Against Drunk Driving, which is a volunteer-driven service that provides free rides home to all Department of Defense ID cardholders after basic information is gathered from callers.

To contact the group for more information or to sign up as a volunteer, call 309-8767 or email