Deter drunk, drugged, drowsy, and distracted driving to dodge death

Surmountable Governance Issues
Jan 26, 2023
6 min read
Driving under the influence is a drinking game in which everyone loses / iStock

Issue 53 • Week of January 22, 2023

Call 877-623-3435 (877-MADD-HELP) if you suspect someone is endangering a child by driving under the influence or learn how to spot an impaired driver and call 911 if you are able to safely report details

The big game is practically a national holiday but it comes with some unintended consequences: Super Bowl Sunday is the second-most dangerous day to be on the road. Driving is already riskier than it has been in nearly two decades, as over 40,000 people were killed with a vehicle in one year.

Many of these tragedies are preventable since over half of drivers involved in a serious or fatal crash test positive for at least one drug – either legal or illegal. Most are impaired in one or more of four ways known as the 4 D's:

  1. Drunk: Ten thousand people who die from crashes every year in the US are due to drunk driving and 9 in 10 Americans believe those over the legal limit for alcohol should be prevented from driving.
  2. Drugged: Many drugs, including some medicines, slow reaction times. Three of every five recreational marijuana users in states where it is legal admit to driving while high. Others drugs such as cocaine or meth make people more aggressive and reckless that can increase drivers' propensity for speeding, which causes half of all collisions.
  3. Drowsy: As many as a third of all car crashes involve driver fatigue. Nearly all drivers admit that being drowsy behind the wheel is dangerous, yet a quarter acknowledged struggling to keep their eyes open and 4% were proven to fall asleep on the road within a single month test period.
  4. Distracted: Distractions come in many forms and are a factor in about 10% of all car crashes. One in three drivers text while driving even though it has been banned in all but two states. Reading a single message can divert your eyes for up to 5 seconds, equating to driving the length of a football field at 55 mph.

It is illegal to drive in any state while impaired by any substance or medication. Whether or not you agree with jail or other penalties as punishment for driving under the influence, unfortunately they have been proven not to work in the US as deterrents.

So how else can we prevent these preventable deaths?

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