new directions


Driver Impairment
Puts Everyone at Risk

You may recall a recent story that made the headlines about a tragic freeway crash that killed a 10-year-old girl. She was asleep in the backseat of her father’s sedan when the driver of an SUV swerved into the carpool lane and struck the rear of her car. Prosecutors say the driver of the SUV was under the influence of cocaine and opiates.

This sudden, heartbreaking loss of a young child is an example of the terrible consequences that can result from a growing concern – drugged driving. This is not just a problem in some areas. It happens everywhere. A recent survey showed that approximately one in eight weekend nighttime drivers tested positive for illicit drugs.

If that isn’t alarming enough, illegal drugs aren’t the only substances that put traffic safety at risk. Common prescription and over-the-counter medications, while legal, can also impair driving skills. Just because a drug is legal, or may become legal, does not mean it is safe to use while operating a motor vehicle. If you get behind the wheel while you’re impaired by any substance, you put yourself, your passengers, and others on the road at risk.

This is important to remember as a number of states consider legalizing marijuana. Such efforts are still relatively new, and we are just beginning to learn about the full impacts legalization will have on traffic safety. AAA and other safety advocates are concerned because marijuana use can affect driver safety by impairing vehicle control and judgment.

As we enter the holiday season with all of its parties and gatherings, remember that arriving at your destination safely is the most important gift you can give your loved ones. Stay focused, don’t drive when you’re sleepy, and don’t get behind the wheel while impaired in any way. Always plan ahead to designate a non-impaired driver before any party or holiday celebration, and if you’re the host, offer alcohol-free beverages like the mocktails you can read about here. And contacting a cab or ride-sharing service has never been easier.

AAA wishes you and your family a safe and happy holiday season.

Jim McGrath

September/October 2016 Issue

Jim McGrath


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