December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. The North Dakota Health and Human Services (HHS) Behavioral Health Division (BHD) and Vision Zero are teaming up to raise awareness about ways to prevent injuries and deaths resulting from impaired driving during the holiday season.
In North Dakota in 2021, an alcohol-related crash occurred nearly every 13 hours and an alcohol-related vehicle fatality occurred nearly every 10.5 days according to the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) Highway Safety Division.
“Alcohol and drug-related crashes are 100% preventable,” said Lauren Wahlman, Safety Public Information Program Manager, NDDOT Highway Safety Division. “Lives would be saved in North Dakota each year if every driver consistently made the choice to always drive sober or to designate a sober driver.”
There are several evidence-based strategies underway in the state aimed at reducing impaired driving and saving lives. Vision Zero’s ND Sober Ride is a program that uses vouchers to pay participating transportation providers for giving sober rides. Over the Thanksgiving Day weekend, the program provided Lyft vouchers to 83 individuals. ND Sober Ride will be available statewide from Dec. 22, 2022 to Jan. 1, 2023.
BHD contracts with the North Dakota Safety Council to provide statewide Responsible Beverage Service training. The training educates owners, managers, servers and sellers at alcohol establishments on strategies to avoid illegally selling alcohol to underage youth and intoxicated customers. From Oct. 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2022, about 725 people received either in-person or online training and 10 new instructors were trained.
Other strategies include high-visibility enforcement campaigns and Speaks Volumes, an outreach campaign to educate North Dakotans on the alcohol volume in standard drink sizes to help reduce adult binge drinking.
“Binge drinking can result in many consequences impacting individuals, families and communities. These prevention efforts will save lives,” said Behavioral Health Division Assistant Director Laura Anderson.
Vision Zero, launched in January 2018 by the North Dakota Governor’s Office, NDDOT and other Governor’s Cabinet agencies, works to eliminate fatalities and serious injury caused by motor vehicle crashes. For more information, visit VisionZero.ND.gov.
HHS Behavioral Health Division is responsible for reviewing and identifying service needs and activities in the state's behavioral health system to ensure health and safety, access to services and quality services. It also establishes quality assurance standards for the licensure of substance use disorder program services and facilities and provides policy leadership in partnership with public and private entities. For more information, visit hhs.nd.gov/behavioral-health.
How to get help
Individuals struggling with substance use can find information on treatment providers in the new North Dakota Mental Health Program Directory along with other support services at hhs.nd.gov/behavioral-health/find-services. HHS eight regional human services centers also provide behavioral health treatment services including walk-in crisis services.
Anyone experiencing a behavioral health crisis should call 988 or 211 for immediate help 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, including weekends and holidays. Both numbers are answered in North Dakota by FirstLink.