In 2009, 10,839 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (32 percent) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States, according to the National Highway Safety Administration. In fact, every day almost 30 people in the US die in an auto crash that involves an alcohol-impaired driver. In Utah in 2011, nearly 16 percent of traffic fatalities (29 deaths) involved alcohol or other drugs. Male drivers aged 20-24 represent the highest percentage of drivers involved in alcohol and drug-related crashes.
Alcohol and drugs impair a person's ability to concentrate, to make decisions and slow reaction time to the roadway environment. Alcohol and drugs, legal or not, may affect motor skills, reflexes and judgment. All of these characteristics are needed to drive safely. Being impaired increases the potential to injure others and cause fatalities. For this reason, there are strict legal consequences for people driving while under the influence.
Adults can get a DUI from driving while having a blood alcohol content, or BAC, of .08; they can also get a DWI (driving while intoxicated) for having a lower BAC than .08. Both situations can be deadly. Teens are subject to a DUI if they are driving and have consumed even the slightest amount of alcohol or drugs. It's important to note that these substances can remain in the bloodstream for up to several months, resulting in a DUI even after initial consumption.
Did You Know: Alcohol and illegal drugs are not the only thing that can impair your driving. Prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and lack of sleep can also impair your ability to drive safely.
- Blurred vision
- Fatigue and difficulty focusing
- Reaction time may be too quick, too slow, or not at all
Recognizing an Impaired Driver
You may be observing an impaired driver if they:
- Drive unreasonably fast, slow, or inconsistently.
- Weave in or out of their travel lane.
- Make frequent lane changes.
- Ignore traffic signals and signs.
- Drive at night without lights.
- Drive too close to curbs, shoulders, the edge of the road or straddle the center line.
- Don't drink and drive.
- Don't drive if your medication makes you sleepy.
- If your friend or family member has been drinking, get the keys to their car.
- If you are impaired or are with someone who is impaired, call a taxi or use mass transit.
- If you plan to drink, choose a designated driver before going out.
- Report drivers exhibiting signs of impaired driving.