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December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.
Traffic fatalities as a result of drug and alcohol use have unfortunately increased according to the presidential proclamation. “Last year, preventable alcohol-related driving fatalities accounted for nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities,” says the president’s report.
With the holiday season upon us, and festive gatherings filling out everyone’s schedule, authorities are on high alert for people driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Having a plan in place before going out to consume alcohol and, marijuana if you live in a state where it’s legal, you can avoid becoming an impaired driving statistic.
Impaired Driving Statistics According to NCADD
- Two out of three people will be involved in drunk driving crash at some point in their life
- 29.1 million people, more than the population of Texas, admitted to driving under the influence in 2012
- In 2009, nearly 20 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for illegal or prescription drugs
- An estimated 32 percent of fatal collisions involve a driver operating the vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or both
How Do Various Substances Affect Driving?
Alcohol as a depressant slows the speed at which the brain operates. Hand-eye-coordination is impaired along with concentration and judgment and reaction time.
Marijuana is similar, but also distorts time and distance in a fashion that regular users might take for granted until it’s too late and they’re behind the wheel.
Stimulants like cocaine lead to a sense of over-confidence and a decrease in risk aversion, meaning drivers on stimulants are more reckless.
Psychedelics, such as LSD, magic mushrooms, or ecstasy alter the brain’s normal ability to process light and sound. They can also cause some users to hallucinate. Any of these elements are deadly if they occur while a person is driving.
Roadside DUI Checkpoints Have Become More Sophisticated
With the legalization of recreational marijuana in several states, some police departments have started carrying marijuana breathalyzers.
The device can detect and measure recent use from both edible and inhaled marijuana products.
While it’s not in widespread use yet, it may become more common soon.
Roadside Test for Cocaine
In the UK, authorities have even developed a roadside test for cocaine using a compact mass spectrometer that officials in the U.S. have shown interest in employing.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, police make more drunk driving arrests than during any other time of the year.
In an effort to curb the tragic consequences of drunk or drugged driving, certain states have taken to setting up DUI checkpoints in areas where there’s a lot of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues.
Though getting arrested for driving under the influence might actually save lives, it can also ruin them.
With a criminal record, people can get fired from their job or find it difficult to get another one.
Most people can also expect to pay thousands of dollars in court fees and fines. It simply is not worth it.
If you plan to imbibe while out this holiday season, take advantage of ride share services, such as Lyft and Uber, take public transportation, or call a cab.
If none of those options are available however, decide to make the right choice and abstain from alcohol and drugs.
Driving while sober will decrease the likelihood of an accident and make you a better defensive driver against those that have not made the right choice.