It can be of no question that driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can significantly impair driving ability. This has a huge impact on public safety. Drivers who are under the influence are responsible for more accidents than any other group of people in the country.
What Does Alcohol or Drugs Do While Driving?
If you drive whilst you have drugs or alcohol in your system then this can affect several functions within your body. It can impair your perception and make you unable to judge speed or distances correctly. It can impair your cognition meaning that you fair to spot hazards quickly enough or at all. It can impair your attention meaning that you focus on other things rather than your driving. It can also impair your coordination and balance meaning that your ability to operate the controls of the vehicle are significantly impaired. All of this makes you a much worse driver. What is worse, is that you may feel like you are a better driver than you are.
Taking a sample from 2014. There were 27.7 million incidents of driving whilst under the influence of alcohol. There were also 10.1 million incidents of driving whilst under the influence of drugs. Worse still there were around 7 million incidents of people driving whilst under the influence of both drugs and alcohol at the same time. Alcohol was a significant factor in around 31 per cent of all traffic-related deaths. This means that in 2014 one person lost their life every 53 seconds as a result of drivers under the influence of alcohol.
The US has been targetting eliminating drunk drivers for many years, but the problem whilst reducing is not reducing enough. Drug driving is a newer problem and it seems to be a significant problem for younger age groups. Drunk driving is most prevalent in the 21 to 29-year-old age group and drug driving is most prevalent in the 20-23 age group. This means that despite years of education the problem is still occurring the most in young and newer drivers. This combined with a lack of experience makes for a much worse problem.
Prevention Through Education
Part of the way to address the issue is through education. Not only to new drivers but also to drivers that have received cautions or citations for DUI. It is not just about informing them of the hazards, but it is also about showing to them the consequences of their actions. By letting drivers come face to face with the victims of accidents caused by drivers who are impaired through drink or drugs then it is hoped that this can shock them into never driving whilst under the influence in the future. This is not an easy challenge but it is something that we hope to reinforce throughout our driver education process. Remember that driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs is the biggest causer of road accidents in the entire US.