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December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

President Obama has declared December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

With an average of one person losing their life every 51 minutes due to an alcohol-impaired driving crash, this year’s announcement includes a special focus on both the personal and economic costs of drunk driving.

The proclamation states, “Alcohol and drugs can impair perception, judgment, motor skills, and memory — the skills critical for safe and responsible driving. And as mobile technology becomes ubiquitous, the distractions of texting and cell phone use continue to pose grave dangers on our roadways. Deaths caused by impaired driving are preventable and unacceptable, and my Administration is taking action to reduce and eliminate them. We continue to support the law enforcement officers who work to keep us safe and decrease impaired driving. To help save lives, States and local communities across our Nation will participate in the national Drive Sober or Get

Pulled Over campaign from December 12 to January 1, reminding all Americans of their important responsibility.”

A driver commits the crime of impaired driving whenever his or her ability to safely operate a vehicle is impaired by the effects of illegal drugs, prescription medications, or over-the-counter medications or by having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.

According to a 2014 NHTSA report, crashes caused by drunk drivers cost the nation $47 billion in direct economic impacts in 2010, an average cost of $152 for every person in the U.S., and rose to $195 billion when the overall harm to society due to loss of life and quality of life was included.

Among the data from the NHTSA, during the 2012 holiday season:
• 40 percent of the drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes had at least one prior DUI on their record.
• 37 percent of the 21 to 24-year old drivers in fatal crashes were impaired.
• Almost 1 out of 6 drivers under the age of 21 in those fatal crashes were also drunk.

Drunk and Drugged Driving Facts*:
• Alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crashes cost more than an estimated $37 billion annually.
• In 2012, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes – one every 51 minutes.
• In 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. (NHTSA, 2012)
• Of the 1,210 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2010, 211 (17%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver. (NHTSA, 2012)
• In 2010, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. (DOJ, 2012)

According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 10.3 million people aged 12 or older (or 3.9 percent of adolescents and adults) reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed.

You should also know the potential effects of any medications you take that may have on your ability to drive safely – before you get behind the wheel. Don’t expose yourself to increased risk of an accident, lawsuit or higher car insurance rates by driving while medicated.

Although only December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, it makes sense to treat every month with this in mind.

Have you ever been stopped for driving while impaired? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

* Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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