Reasons To Play It Safe This Holiday Season

It's that time of the year.  Lots of traveling and lots of parties.  Please be safe doing both.

With an increase in holiday parties and festivities, the month of December can be a dangerous time of year for impaired driving fatalities. With the Kansas Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s support, state and local law enforcement agencies across the nation are stepping up enforcement efforts to put an end to impaired driving.

More than 150 law enforcement agencies across Kansas are joining forces to pull over all motorists who show signs of impaired driving as part of the national campaign that runs from Dec. 21 through Dec. 31.

It doesn’t matter what term is used, if a person is high, stoned, wasted, or drunk, he or she is impaired. Driving while impaired by any substance is illegal and can be deadly to the driver and other road users. It’s that simple. 

Something as simple as cold medication or an over-the-counter sleep aid could impair your driving. If it does, you will be arrested for a DUI.

Always tell your doctor of any drugs you are taking (prescription, over-the-counter, and illegal) so they may accurately counsel you on if it is safe to drive while taking them.

Impaired Driving Statistics

Drivers must never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This not only means refraining from drunk driving, but also from drug-impaired driving. NHTSA’s 2013/14 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers found that nearly one in four weekend drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could impair their ability to drive safely.

From 2007 to 2015, marijuana usage doubled among drivers killed in crashes, according to NHTSA.

According to NHTSA, 885 people lost their lives in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver in December 2017.

In Kansas, impaired drivers cause about 20 percent of traffic fatalities. In 2017, over the holiday season, approximately 17 percent of all crashes were alcohol-related.

Kansas averages nearly three people injured every day and one person killed every four days in alcohol-related crashes. 

In 2017 alone, Kansas saw nearly 2,000 impaired driving crashes where at least one driver was over .08 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). Of the total fatal crashes in Kansas in 2017, more than 19 percent were alcohol related. Those crashes resulted in 85 fatalities and 1,022 injuries in 2017.

In 2017, male drivers accounted for nearly 80 percent of all impaired driving fatalities and 70 percent of all impaired driving injuries in Kansas.

Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers (with a BAC of .08 or higher). In 2016, there were 10,497 people killed in drunk-driving crashes, an increase from the 10,265 people killed in 2015.

Nationally, in 2016, approximately 1 in 5 children (14 and younger) killed in traffic crashes were killed in drunk-driving crashes. Fifty-four percent of the time, it was the child’s own driver who was drunk.

Despite the fact that it’s illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher, one person is killed every 50 minutes by a drunk driver on our nation’s roadways.

Men are more likely than women to be driving drunk in fatal crashes. In 2016, 21 percent of males were impaired in these crashes, compared to 14 percent of females.

Law enforcement across the state are investing in drug recognition education and enforcement to combat the growing threat of drugged driving on Kansas roads.

Financial Impacts

Impaired drivers face up to one year in jail, suspension of their driving privileges, fines and other costs of up to $10,000 as well as the mandatory installation and monthly fees for an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.

If you’re caught impaired driving, you could face jail time. Imagine trying to explain to your friends and family or place of employment if you’re unable to report to the office.

Plan a Safe Ride Home Ahead of Time This Holiday Season and Year Round

It’s never OK to drive while impaired whether it’s alcohol, prescription drugs, sleep medication, marijuana, or any form of illegal drug. Passengers should never ride with an impaired driver. If you think a driver may be impaired, do not get in the car.

Have a friend who is about to drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs? Take the keys away and arrange to get them home safely. Don’t worry about offending someone—they’ll thank you later.

Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app available on Google Play for Android devices: (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nhtsa.SaferRide&hl=en), and Apple’s ITunes Store for IOS devices: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/saferride/id950774008?mt=8). SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a friend, and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.

If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.

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Manny

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