Impaired driving dangerous to all

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- December is Impaired Driving Awareness month for the 21st Medical Group.

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- December is Impaired Driving Awareness month for the 21st Medical Group.

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Before the hour passes, one person in the United States will die in a motor vehicle accident involving an alcohol-impaired driver. Drugs, beside alcohol, were involved in about 1 million of the total 6.3 million accidents in 2015. These statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration paint a telling picture.

December is Impaired Driving Awareness month for 21st Medical Group at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Their aim is to discourage impaired driving of any type, whether from alcohol or any type of drugs, during the holiday season.

“We try to pick appropriate themes throughout the year,” said Col. Michael Wood, 21st MDG deputy commander. “Around the holidays impaired driving becomes more of an issue. It’s not like we are trying to tell our people not to have fun, but we are telling them not to drive while impaired.”

The most important recommendation Wood offered to prevent impaired driving is to simply have a plan.

“In the military having a plan is second nature,” said Wood. “Have multiple backup plans, too. Moderate your drinking, don’t binge.”

Backup plans are easy enough to prepare with the availability of recall rosters and groups like Airmen Against Drunk Driving. He said slowing down and having a plan is effective in preventing impaired driving. Planning helps avoid situations that will bring trouble, as well.

Impaired driving accidents cause farther reaching issues. Wood named legal, disciplinary, injury and injury to others as a few of them.

“It impacts far more than just the individual,” he said.

The results of impaired driving can require resilience, Wood said. Resiliency is about bouncing back to an object’s original shape, and available resources play an important role in that process.

Unlike rubber balls that regain original shape quickly, people are different. Sometime, he said, people bounce back, but at other times there are factors involved hindering the ability to bounce back. Others are needed, in those occasions, to help.

“In the military a lot of things knock us out of our original shape,” said Wood. “We need to be well prepared and have someone to help us bounce back.”

Helping in the resiliency arena are groups like Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment - the 21st MDG’s substance abuse program - the Airman & Family Readiness Center, family advocates and wingmen. The social aspect of resilience is one that is often overlooked, Wood said.

“The base has many resources,” he said. “We want to focus on getting Airmen back into the fight.”