Make It Home for the Holidays

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is once again teaming up with law enforcement across the United States during the 2019 Holiday Season to increase enforcement targeting the traffic safety issue of impaired driving. The enforcement campaigns, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Drive High, Get a DUI, run from December 13, 2019, through January 1, 2020 to coincide with the 2019 holiday season. The Holiday Season is one of the deadliest times of the year in terms of impaired-driving fatalities.

NHTSA reminds us, “It doesn’t matter what term you use: If a person is feeling a little high, buzzed, stoned, wasted, or drunk, he or she is impaired and should never get behind the wheel.”

Independence Day

July 4th is a celebration of American independence and freedom. Don’t jeopardize your freedom by drinking and driving. Law enforcement across the US are taking part in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign during the 4th of July holiday period, June 29 through July 5, 2019, to put an end to drunk driving.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that over the 4th of July holiday period in 2017 (6 p.m. June 30 to 5:59 a.m. July 5), 601 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. 39% (237) of those fatalities occurred in alcohol-impaired crashes. This is a 23% increase from 2016, during which 192 people were killed during the same holiday period. NHTSA urges drivers to designate a sober driver before heading out for the evening. If you plan on drinking, plan on not driving.

Marijuana on the Road

Cannabis Use in Vehicles

Effective January 1, 2018, the California vehicle code has been updated to make it illegal to smoke or ingest marijuana or any marijuana product when driving or riding as a passenger in a vehicle.  Drugged driving laws have been in place for many years, but this law specifically addresses the use of cannabis products while driving.

Marijuana and driving don’t mix.  According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), marijuana negatively affects a number of skills required for safe driving, such as slow reaction time and your ability to make decisions.  The California Office of Traffic Safety states that the effects of marijuana are strongest during the first hour of use and driving right after using marijuana could double your risk of being in a crash.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse also notes that after alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often found in the blood of drivers involved in crashes.

So please remember, driving under the influence of drugs, even legal drugs, is not only unsafe, but is also a crime.

‘Tis The Season!

How to Keep Your Holidays Merry and Bright

’Tis the season for holiday celebrations!  But hold on there…we want to remind you ’tis also the season to be extra cautious on roadways.  December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention month, and what better time to address dangers of driving intoxicated than now?  This month abounds with lots of food and lots to drink.  We know it’s easy to get caught up in all the cheer and merriment of the holiday season, and that’s why it’s a really good time to remember the consequences of driving impaired.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), data shows that the holiday season is a particularly dangerous time on the roadways:

  • In 2011, 760 people lost their lives as a result of drunk-driving-related crashes during the month of December alone.
  • Nearly 30% of the 14,318 December crash fatalities from 2007 to 2011 involved drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 grams per deciliter or higher.

It may be easy to tune statistics out, but take a moment to really visualize the risks of drunk and buzzed driving and how you’ll be affected.  A DUI conviction stays on your record indefinitely, affecting your home life, your work, and just about every other aspect of your life.  Being convicted of a DUI comes at great cost: monetary loss due to legal fees, lost wages, and potential civil lawsuits — not to mention a significant increase in your auto insurance rates.  If you believe putting yourself at risk isn’t that big of a deal, then at least think of the innocent people who could be injured or killed because of YOUR bad decision.  Living with the aftermath of such incidents is devastating.  How could you ever make it up to them?  No matter how you look at it, driving under the influence of even ONE drink is not worth the risks.

The best decision you can make is one you make before partaking in any consumption of alcohol.  If you are attending a party or event where alcohol will be present, decide beforehand to either abstain from drinking completely or to abstain from driving.  You must decide on your plan BEFORE you begin enjoying the festivities, especially if you tend to have trouble abstaining even when you know you need to drive.  Once alcohol hits your system, you’re a lot more likely to make poor decisions.

If you’re going to be with a group of people, select a designated driver.Print  There are several organizations that participate in a designated driver program, with many establishments offering incentives like complimentary non-alcoholic beverages for the DD.  Who doesn’t love FREE?

In case you can’t find a designated driver, or if your designated driver fails to maintain sobriety, have a taxi cab number on hand to call at the end of the night to pick you up and drop you off.  It’s a lot less expensive than a DUI.

Now … go drink and be merry!  Just remember – your drink doesn’t have to be alcoholic, and never should be if you plan to drive.

The New DUI: Driving While Intexticated

For as long as I can remember, there’s news almost daily about the tragic death(s) caused by an impaired driver. While the rate of fatal deaths due to DUI has actually been decreasing sharply over the last two decades, today’s drivers have seemingly chosen a new deadly form of DUI: Driving While Intexticated.
Texting while driving decreases reaction times.
Ironic in their nomenclature, smart phones are increasingly making drivers incredibly stupid. For the first time in history, drivers everywhere are making the conscious choice to drive several seconds at a time with their head down. This is no LOL matter.

Ponder this:

  • Compared to a 12% decrease of reaction time for buzzed drivers driving at the legal blood-alcohol limit, the reaction time of drivers texting while driving decreases by a whopping 35%. Intexticated drivers are almost 3 times slower to react that intoxicated drivers.
  • About 80% of drivers use their cell phones when on the road, and 60% of novice drivers between the ages of 18-24 own up to pounding away on an iPhone or Android keyboard while behind the wheel.

The Future of Crash Text Dummies

The Texting and Driving Dilema

So how will state governments wage war on drivers driving under the influence of text? No one is sure, but looking to the past may give us an idea. Decades ago, drunk driving was much more rampant per capita. In order to get the rate of drunk drivers under better control, concerned agencies used a two prong attack:

  1. Influence the public to perceive driving under the influence with harsher eyes (through PSA’s and in-school educational programs)
  2. Increase the punishment for those getting a DUI (steeper fines, revoking licenses, and longer jail time)

A similar strategy might have to be employed to thwart the increasing problems texting and driving is causing. The public perception campaign is already under way. Just search ‘Texting and Driving’ on Youtube and you’ll see what I mean. Though punishment has increased for those who choose to drive phone-in-hand, the common discipline is a slap on the wrist or an inexpensive citation. Will it take stiffer punishment to get drivers to leave the phone alone? Consider a common strategy used by high school teachers dealing with cell phones in the classroom – “Use it and Lose it”. Though an officer confiscating a phone because he saw you texting may seem overboard, I guarantee we’d see a lot more hands on 10 and 2 instead of on the QWERTY.