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December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

Since 1981, each US President has declared December as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. This year, President Obama declared December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, a title reflecting the modern-day dangers of distracted driving, in addition to DUI. The Administration hopes to prevent auto accidents by promoting sober and drug-free driving, as well as raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

Alcohol and drugs are common causes of car accidents. In 2009, alcohol-impaired deaths made up 32 percent of total driving fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2009, drugs – including marijuana and cocaine – were present in 18 percent of fatally injured drivers, which translates into about 10,000 deaths.

Alcohol is a widely recognized source of DUI; less present in the national consciousness are the dangers posed by drugged driving – driving under the influence of any drug that affects cognition. You use your cognitive faculties when driving to:

  • Judge distances and speed.
  • Remember everyday driving rules.
  • React to unexpected situations.
  • Pay attention to the road.
  • Coordinate body movements.

Even prescription drugs can cause these cognitive effects in certain dosages and within a certain time period after taking them.

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month also seeks to prevent tragedies like wrongful death by reducing rates of distracted driving. Distracted driving occurs anytime you take your hands, eyes or mind off the road, including:

  • When you text or talk on the phone.
  • When you use a hands-free electronic device.
  • When you eat or drink while driving.
  • When you apply makeup while driving.
  • When you try to read a map while driving.

According to the NHTSA, 5,474 people were killed in car accidents involving driver distraction in 2009. Another 448,000 people were injured in these accidents.

Motorists who choose to drive while drunk, drugged or distracted put other drivers at risk. Raising awareness and educating our young drivers may help prevent these devastating auto accidents.

If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence in Orlando, Florida or the surrounding areas, please contact experienced auto accident attorney Michael Barszcz, M.D., J.D., to schedule a consultation.

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