Maryland officials making their New Year's resolutions might want to look to Baltimore County's Office of Substance Abuse. For the third consecutive year, the county put together an impressive coalition from the public and private sectors to save lives during the holiday season -- a time when, traditionally, too many people slug down one last Bloody Mary and then hit the road.
The program builds on the growing nationwide intolerance for drinking and driving, which, like cigarette smoking, is fast
becoming socially unacceptable. But not fast enough.
Today, even with changing attitudes about drunk driving, 45 percent of all traffic fatalities are still alcohol-related. It ought to be obvious by now that party-goers need more than pedantic caution; they need a way to translate good intentions into reality. That is the void the county's holiday program fills.
This year, the Office of Substance Abuse used 14 public libraries to distribute 2,000 holiday party kits, which contained information on how to host a safe party -- from recipes for non-alcoholic drinks to myths about drinking and suggestions for what foods to serve to mitigate the effects of drinking. The kits also contained "designated driver" buttons for those who volunteered to abstain from alcohol for an evening, free Breathalyzers so party-goers could determine, before getting behind the wheel, whether they ought to be driving at all -- and a list of taxi services for those who shouldn't.