December is designated for saving lives by spreading awareness of the dangers of impaired driving. Although impaired driving is typically associated with drunk driving, driving under the influence (DUI) of other substances can be just as dangerous.
In 2016, over 1 million people in the U.S. were arrested for impaired driving. While approximately one-third of traffic-related deaths involve drunk driving, impaired driving accidents are extremely preventable.
The Importance of National Impaired Driving Prevention Month
A multitude of different groups raise awareness of impaired driving, including:
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
- Teens Against Drunk Driving (T.A.D.D.)
- Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD)
- International Drunk Driving Prevention Association (IDDPA)
These organizations spread information about the preventable nature of drunk driving and the consequences that can result from it. During December, they offer more resources and extra information about the dangers of DUI.
Substances That Impair Driving
Drunk driving implies that the person operating a vehicle can only cause harm to themselves or other people when they are under the influence of alcohol. However, there are a variety of substances that can alter a person’s inhibitions and, as a result, affect their ability to drive. Some of these substances include:
- Stimulants: Prescription medications such as Adderall and drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine are stimulants that can exaggerate a person’s reflexes, make them more nervous and impair their spatial perception.
- Hallucinogens: A commonly known hallucinogen is lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), which causes slurred speech, trembling, delayed reaction times and impaired cognitive abilities. These side effects can impair a person’s ability to operate a vehicle.
- Marijuana: Many people think they can drive under the influence of marijuana, but that is not the case. Marijuana can lead to inattentiveness, slowed reaction times and memory lapses, among other symptoms.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is the most well-known substance that impacts driving. It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of over .08% because it impacts a person’s judgment, reflexes, coordination, depth perception and peripheral vision.
While someone is under the influence of a substance, they may think they can operate a vehicle. However, with impaired judgment and impacted reflexes, their response times will not be the same.
If someone is suffering from a substance use disorder, it can increase the likelihood that they will drive under the influence of a substance, risking their own life and endangering other people on the road.
How to Prevent Drunk Driving
The impacts of substances are widely known, and National Impaired Driving Prevention Month spreads even more awareness about the dangers of DUI. To prevent drunk driving and avoid endangering the lives of others on the road, you can take several preventive steps:
- Have a designated driver: Using a designated driver provides extra assurance that anyone who will be impaired can get home safely, as a designated driver does not drink or participate in any type of substance use.
- Use transportation apps: Multiple apps can transport groups of people under the influence, such as Lyft and Uber. This way, if you don’t have a designated driver, you can still get home safely without harming yourself or others.
If you are suffering from a substance use disorder, the likelihood you will drive under the influence increases, meaning you are at a higher risk of getting into a car crash or receiving a DUI penalty. To prevent yourself from harming others in a drunk driving incident, you can seek treatment that will provide effective care for your addiction and long-term results.
Reach Out to Gateway Foundation for Treatment and Drunk Driving Prevention
If you think you have a substance use disorder, we can help. We have been providing effective, evidence-based treatment plans for over 50 years, and our compassionate team of professionals understands how to make you as comfortable as possible as you begin your journey to recovery.
We provide DUI programs and individualized treatment plans to ensure we can meet all your needs and give you the tools to continue your sober life after treatment. Our staff will also provide the medical support you need and introduce you to other individuals who have had similar substance use disorder experiences. Contact us today for more information about our services.