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Impaired driving is dangerous business


            Every 51 minutes someone is killed in an impaired driving crash, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That comes out to about 10,000 people who die every year because of drivers who used alcohol or other substance  before they got behind the wheel of a car to drive because they “probably are OK.” But “probably OK” is not good enough. When in doubt, don’t.

            In 2015, nearly 1.1 million drivers were arrested for DUI (alcohol or narcotics), according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) Because of the increasing use of marijuana, more night time and weekend drivers have marijuana in their system. Those people are more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers who don’t use marijuana. Age and gender may account for the increased risk among marijuana users.

            The problem is that these substances distort vision and depth perception meaning the user is not in a physically controlled state. Thinking, reasoning, muscle coordination are all slowed. The central nervous system is impaired and the person is unable to make sound judgments for his or her own safety or for the safety of other people using the highways.

            Alcohol is the most substance present in the blood of impaired drivers in crashes followed by marijuana. Legalizing marijuana for medicinal and recreative use increases the risks of impaired driving. Buzzed driving is drunk driving, advises NHTSA. The agency, looking after the safety of everyone using the highways, also recommends some do’s and don’ts.

  • Don’t drink and drive. “Drive sober or get pulled over” probably sounds familiar to everyone.
  • Do designate a sober driver who will see that you get home safely.
  • Don’t let friends drink and drive. You could safe a life.
  • Do make sure all guests at your party leave with the car keys in the hands of someone who is sober.
  • Always wear your seat belt.

For every action there is a consequence. The consequences for the dangerous crime of impaired driving have gotten heavier since the 1980s. Tough enforcement of drunk driving laws have been a major factor in reducing alcohol-impaired driving deaths. Charges range from misdemeanors to felony offenses. Penalties include losing your driver’s license, fines and legal fees – the first offense can cost about $10,000 – and jail time.

Technology isn’t just smart phones, computers and X-boxes. NHTSA supports the expansion of ignition interlocks that are connected to the ignition. The car won’t start until the driver blows into the interlock and has a BAC below a pre-set limit, usually .02.

 You can make the choice to drink alcohol or use drugs, but you might consider the safety of others around you, just as you want others to consider your safety. Designated drivers, taxi services, friends or family members who will come to pick you up are all viable options. Family Recovery Center wants you to be safe.

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