Impaired driving is preventable.
Drivers can choose to drive sober, get plenty of rest and pay attention.
Impaired drivers risk killing and injuring themselves and their passengers. They also put everyone on the road in danger. The best defense against impaired drivers is wearing a seat belt.
Impairment is a diminished ability to drive, which can be caused by
Drinking and Driving, Drugged Driving, Distracted Driving, & Drowsy Driving.
The four “Ds” can be deadly. Statistics show a third of deaths being attributable to alcohol. Distracted driving fatalities increase annually. While researchers are studying the best ways to get identifiable and conclusive data on drugged and drowsy driving, both are responsible for thousands of lives lost each year on our nation’s roads. Scroll down to learn more, or click to skip ahead.
Alcohol-related fatalities have fallen by 37% in the last three decades in Virginia.
However, the chance of being in an alcohol-related crash is one in six over the course of a lifetime.
These deaths cost residents of the Commonwealth $404 million per year.
Drunk driving is deadly, and so is driving after consuming a small amount of alcohol.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a .02% BAC results in a decline in visual function, an inability to multi-task and some loss of judgement.
At a .05% BAC, drivers experience reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering and a reduced response to emergency situations.
Drinking and Driving Resources
- Checkpoint Strikeforce
- College Drinking: Changing the Culture
- Governor’s Highway Safety Association
- Highway Safety Research Center
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Impaired Driving
- Smart Safe and Sober
- The Century Council
- Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
- Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program
- Washington Regional Alcohol Program
- The Cool Spot
Driving after taking certain medications and all illegal drugs is risky and can cause traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities.
Drivers cannot judge their own level of impairment after smoking marijuana or taking other illegal drugs, so any amount of consumption puts them and others at risk.
Those who drive high on drugs could get a DUI.
Law enforcement officers across Virginia are trained to recognize drugged drivers. According to a recent roadside study by the National Highway Traffic Administration, one in four drivers on America’s roads tested positive for at least one drug that impacts safety
Drugged Driving Resources:
Prescription Medications and Driving
If drivers take over-the-counter medications and/or prescriptions, they must first learn how they could impact their driving ability. Drivers should:
Read all labeling.
Discuss impacts on driving with your doctor
Never combine alcohol or drugs with medicine
Ensure your physicians know everything you are taking
While a driver is distracted, he or she may not be able to react to a changing environment.
The driver loses precious seconds before recognizing the situation and must make an emergency maneuver.
The three basic types of distracted driving are mechanical, visual and cognitive. All types increase crash risk.
Visual: During visual distraction, drivers’ eyes are off the road, such as looking at a billboard or the dashboard.
Mechanical: A driver’s hand is off the wheel during mechanical distraction, such as eating or handling an object.
Cognitive: Cognitive distraction poses the highest risk because the driver’s mind is off driving. When a driver’s brain is overloaded by two cognitive tasks, such as driving and talking on the phone, drivers make the phone conversation the main task and driving becomes the secondary task, without recognizing it. Driving is severely impaired as a secondary task, and the impairment can last a long time.
Texting while driving continues to be one of the leading causative factors and is one of the most visible unsafe driving behaviors.
Texting while driving is illegal and a primary offense in Virginia. A texting while driving conviction carries a $125 fine for the first offense and a $250 fine for second or subsequent offenses.
Other top actions for distracted driving crashes in Virginia involve rubbernecking, talking with passengers, and adjusting the radio.
Young distracted drivers are even more susceptible.
Inexperience in handling or controlling a vehicle during an emergency combined with distracted driving puts them at greater risk of a crash.
More young people are involved in distracted driving crashes than any other age group. The main types of collisions were rear end crashes and running off the road into a fixed object. The top driver action was “eyes not on the road.”
Distracted Driving Resources
Not getting enough rest before driving can be as deadly as drunk, drugged, and distracted driving.
Constant yawning, head nodding, heavy eyelids, difficulty remembering the last few miles driven, missing road signs or exits, unplanned lane changes, driving off the road, or hitting rumble strips are all signs of drowsy driving.
Driving while drowsy increases crash risk as drivers struggle to process complex information coming from different places at once. Drivers may make careless driving decisions, have trouble paying attention or fall asleep while driving.