The month of December is a time of holiday cheer, spending time with family, and celebrations. Unfortunately, many people celebrate to excess, and choose to drive when drunk or impaired by drugs. To raise awareness of the dangers of driving while impaired, December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month.
How dangerous is drunk driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies the dangers of alcohol use when driving. One of its most recent studies conducted over a 20-month period in Virginia Beach, VA in 2012. It found:
- Drivers with an alcohol level of 0.08 were four times as likely to be in an accident as a sober driver.
- Drivers with an alcohol level of 0.15 percent were 12 times as likely to be in an accident as a sober driver.
Consider these other drunk driving statistics from the NHTSA.
- More than 10,000 people lost their lives in drunk driving crashes in 2013 – approximately one life lost every 52 minutes that year.
- Drunk drivers caused 31 percent of fatal car crashes in 2013.
Even after a single drink, alcohol begins to suppress a driver’s reaction time and ability to control their actions and thoughts. As the amount of alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream increases, his or her ability to concentrate decreases and motor skills become more impaired. Without good concentration and the ability to quickly control a vehicle, a driver becomes a hazard to himself and those around him while behind the wheel.
How dangerous is drugged driving?
Drugged driving refers to driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of an illegal substance, prescription drug, or over-the-counter (OTC) medication.
Many prescription and OTC medications come with warnings about driving while taking the medication, as they can cause drowsiness or impairment. Drivers should heed these warnings.
Meanwhile, illegal substances such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy can cause severe impairment. Some drugs cause extreme highs and erratic behavior, which might increase the risk of speeding, swerving between lanes, and other types of reckless driving. On the opposite end of the spectrum are drugs that cause euphoria and dulled senses, which can lead to slow reaction times, impaired sense of reality, and inability to control a vehicle.
The same NHTSA study in Virginia Beach cited above also examined the participants for drug use. The researchers reviewed the data for a wide range of drugs.
- Approximately 12.6 percent of those surveyed tested positive for marijuana while driving.
- The study found that marijuana use while driving was associated with a 25 percent increase in the risk of being in a crash. (Marijuana was the only substance prevalent enough to produce significant findings.)
Drive Sober and Responsibly This Holiday Season
Gallon, Takacs, Boissoneault & Schaffer Co., L.P.A. would like to remind our clients, friends, and families to please drink responsibly and be aware of your medications’ warnings when driving this – and every – month. Remember that the cost of a cab ride or spending the night at a friend’s house is well worth it to protect yourself and those around you.
Even responsible, sober drivers are affected when others drink or use drugs and drive. If a drunk or drugged driver injured you or a loved one, contact our office today to set up a free consultation, or call us directly at 419-843-6663 to learn about your options to file an injury claim.