What is impaired driving?
“Impaired driving is dangerous. It’s the cause of more than half of all car crashes. It means operating a motor vehicle while you are affected by. Alcohol. Legal or illegal drugs.”
How big is the problem?
- In 2015, 10,265 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (29%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
- Of the 1, 1,132 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2015, 209 (16%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
- In 2015, nearly 1.1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. That’s one percent of the 111 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year.
- Drugs other than alcohol (legal and illegal) are involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes.
- Marijuana use is increasing and 13% of nighttime, weekend drivers have marijuana in their system.
- Marijuana users were about 25% more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use, however other factors – such as age and gender – may account for the increased crash risk among marijuana users.
How can deaths and injuries from impaired driving be prevented?
Effective measures include:
- Actively enforcing existing 0.08% BAC laws, minimum legal drinking age laws, and zero tolerance laws for drivers younger than 21 years old in all states.
- Requiring ignition interlocks for all offenders, including first-time offenders
- Using sobriety checkpoints.
- Putting health promotion efforts into practice that influence economic, organizational, policy, and school/community action.
- Using community-based approaches to alcohol control and DWI prevention.
- Requiring mandatory substance abuse assessment and treatment, if needed, for DWI offenders.
- Raising the unit price of alcohol by increasing taxes.
Areas for continued research:
- Reducing the illegal BAC threshold to 0.05%.
- Mandatory blood alcohol testing when traffic crashes result in injury.
- Does marijuana impair driving? How and at what level?
- Does marijuana use increase the risk of motor vehicle crashes?
What safety steps can individuals take?
Whenever your social plans involve alcohol and/or drugs, make plans so that you don’t have to drive while impaired. For example:
- Before drinking, designate a non-drinking driver when with a group.
- Don’t let your friends drive impaired.
- If you have been drinking or using drugs, get a ride home or call a taxi.
- If you’re hosting a party where alcohol will be served, remind your guests to plan ahead and designate their sober driver; offer alcohol-free beverages, and make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.