More than 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in the U.S. in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s one alcohol-impaired driving death every 50 minutes.
Driving under the influence of drugs can also result in deadly crashes. A recent Harris Poll survey found that while 91% of Americans believe driving under the influence of marijuana is dangerous and 87% say those who do so are a hazard to others on the road, just 40% believe it is contributing to more motor vehicle crashes.
“Driving under the influence of marijuana is a concern,” said Robby Buen, Insurance Manager with AAA Oregon/Idaho. “As more states move to legalize recreational marijuana usage, drivers should be aware that it’s still illegal and dangerous to drive while marijuana-impaired.”
To keep roads safer for drivers, passengers and pedestrians, follow these tips before you buckle up:
For drivers – plan ahead so it’s easy to make the right choice if you’re impaired
- Choose a designated driver who agrees to stay alcohol- and drug-free before you go out.
- Download a ridesharing app like Lyft, or save your local taxi company’s number into your phone so a safe ride is available with the touch of a button.
- Stay with a friend or book a nearby hotel room if you are impaired.
- Don’t combine alcohol with prescription drugs. Visit Roadwise Rx, a free tool from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, to see how your medications affect your driving safety.
For hosts – plan parties to maximize safety and minimize liability
- Offer non-alcoholic drink options and serve food.
- Never serve minors.
- Stop serving alcohol before the party ends.
- Consider hiring a professional bartender who can recognize signs of impairment and limit alcohol.
- Remind guests to plan ahead and designate a sober driver.
- Don’t be afraid to take away car keys from guests who are too impaired to drive.
- Help arrange alternate transportation or accommodations for guests who need it.
For everyone – take steps to protect yourself
- Always wear your seatbelt. Nearly half of all vehicle occupants killed in car accidents were not wearing seat belts, according to NHTSA.
- If you see someone who appears to be impaired when you’re on the road, keep a safe distance and call 9-1-1 if it is safe to do so. Do not attempt to stop the impaired driver.
- Talk to friends and family about the dangers of taking drugs and driving, and discuss the risks with teenage drivers before they take the driving test.