Impaired Driving

Impaired driving accounts for almost 30 people dying from car crashes everyday in the US . This means one death in every 48 minutes from an alcohol-impaired driver which costs about 51 billion US dollars annually.

Check the following factsheet from the Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) on impaired driving:

  • In 2010, nearly 31% of traffic-related deaths in the US amounted to 10,228 fatalities from alcohol-impaired car crashes.
  • 211 children ages 0-14 died from alcohol-impaired drivers which is 17% of the total 1,210 traffic deaths.
  • Over half of the child passengers (131) were riding with an alcohol-impaired driver.
  • In 2010, about 1.5 million drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs were arrested
  • About 18% of motor vehicle deaths reported involved impaired drivers using drugs like marijuana and cocaine in combination with alcohol. Impaired drivers are dangerous to be on the road. It’s a good thing that many countries have effective measures to prevent death and injury from impaired driving.

Impaired driving versus distracted driving

How do you know it’s impaired driving and not distracted driving? The former refers to driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, illegal or legal drugs. It also happens when you are sleepy or having a certain medical condition that can affect driving. Distracted driving is driving while doing other activities that makes him lose focus on the road.

Don’t drink and drive

If you're drinking, don't ever, ever drive
If you’re drink, don’t ever, ever drive

A deadly combination for both the driver and passenger is drinking and driving. When one drinks, alcohol reduces his ability to concentrate and respond to things occurring while he drives. Judging distance and reacting to sudden dangers will be difficult when more alcohol is in your blood. Vision may also be affected when alcohol-impaired.

Here is a list of countries with drunk driving laws.

No drugs while driving

Either legal or illegal drugs, drugs can change your mood, as well as the way you see and feel. These will surely affect driving. Over-the-counter drugs that can cause the driver to feel drowsy can impair driving ability. An example is antihistamine that gives a feeling of drowsiness after taking it.

Safety tips while driving

People arrested for alcohol-impaired driving are usually youngsters, motorcyclists and impaired drivers with prior driving while impaired (DWI) convictions. To minimize fatalities, here are some safety tips to remember:

  • Do not drive if you plan to drink.
  • If you have been drinking, just get a ride home.
  • Be aware of the side effects in case you are taking prescription drugs, anti-allergies or cold remedies. Ask your doctor or read the package information.
  • When hosting a party, remind your friends to assign a non-drinker or be a sober driver. Better yet, serve non-alcoholic beverages.

This is the primary mission of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a US government agency that implements rules and guidelines on vehicle and pedestrian safety. It also aims to minimize impaired driving accidents and deaths. Many countries have strict laws on safe driving, too. In Canada, driving while on alcohol or drugs is a crime under the country’s Criminal Code. A driver can be penalized, his license will be revoked or he can be jailed for the crime.