Impaired Driving and How to Prevent It
Impaired driving is responsible for 32 deaths every day in the United States, which is one death every 45 minutes. There are one million arrests made in the United States each year for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, but these arrests are a tiny amount of the instances of impaired driving. A 2020 survey found an estimated 30 million people 16 or older drove under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs, and data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System found an estimated 127 million instances of alcohol-impaired driving in 2020 alone. The majority of the 30 million people who reported driving under the influence were driving under the influence of alcohol or marijuana.
Alcohol and marijuana effect the brain in different ways, but their impact on driving is similar. Both substances slow reaction times, impact judgment and decision making, and impair coordination. These impairments are increased when the substances are used together. A recent study from Columbia University found that two in five drivers who reported using alcohol and cannabis in the past year drove under the influence of one or both of these substances. The risks of impaired driving are well known, but there is still an astonishing number of people who drive under the influence. This begs the question, how do we prevent people from driving under the influence?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a list of strategies to prevent impaired driving for use by individuals, communities, and states. Here are few of the strategies they suggest:
- Plan Ahead – Have a designated driver or make plans for getting a ride home.
- Lower Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits – Most states currently have a limit of 0.08. Other countries have a limit of 0.05, and Utah saw a decrease in alcohol-related accidents when they adopted the same limit.
- Alcohol Use Disorder Assessment and Treatment Programs – A good way to avoid a problem is to treat the cause. These programs can help people receive help before committing an offense, and can also help offenders by giving them tools to avoid committing the offense again.
- Enforce Current Impaired Driving Laws
For more information about impaired driving and how to prevent it, please visit the links below.