We Can all Play a Role in Preventing Impaired Driving

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month and the Coalition is committed to raising awareness and promoting responsible decision making by young people and adults.

The most powerful advocates for responsible decision making by young people are parents, educators, and community leaders who work with young people every day.  It’s important for parents and other caring adults to talk with teens about the risks and dangers of drugged, drunk or any impaired driving and to set clear expectations–and act as good role models.

Research tells us that younger drivers are particularly susceptible to the hazards of driving while impaired. Teens are the least experienced group of drivers and when this lack of experience is combined with the use of alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, or other substances – which alter perception, cognition, reaction time, and other faculties – the results can be tragic.

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Facts about Teen and Adult Impaired Driving:

  • Locally, more than 35 percent of teens in grade 9 and 11 reported they had driven a car after drinking alcohol, or been in a car driven by a friend when they had been drinking.
  • Nationally, more than six percent of youth aged 16 or 17 drove after taking drugs, and 30 percent of high school seniors report driving after drinking heavily or using drugs, or riding in a car whose driver had been drinking heavily or using drugs, at least once in the prior two weeks.
  • There has been progress in recent years with the number of drunk driving-related deaths in California dropping to record lows and the number of people that reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs n the past year decreased 4.2 percent from the rate in 2010.
  • The California Office of traffic safety conducted a roadside survey and 14 percent of drivers surveyed tested positive for drugs and found that drugs that can affect driving were found in one of every seven weekend nighttime drivers in California. The survey results released by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) showed more drivers tested positive for drugs that may impair driving (14 percent) than did for alcohol (7.3 percent). Of the drugs, marijuana was most prevalent, at 7.4 percent, slightly more than alcohol.

All of us have the power to effect change. In our homes and our community we can engage our youth and discuss the consequences of driving while impaired by anything and of drug or alcohol abuse. In our clinics and hospitals, health care providers can redouble their efforts to recognize patients with substance abuse problems and offer medical intervention.

As we come together with our loved ones this holiday season, let us renew our commitment to drive safely, act responsibly, and live drug-free.

Read entire press release from the Office of Traffic Safety HERE.