Many people know not to drink and drive. For decades, community groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been creating awareness at early ages that drinking and driving is not only illegal, but too often results in deadly accidents. What seems to have less of a community focus seems to be substance impaired driving and distracted driving, both equally dangerous to drink driving.
Other Types of Impaired Driving
Drunk driving, because of the amount of attention given to it in the past few decades, is the type of substance impaired driving that leads to the most arrests. Technology has made it possible for police officers to give roadside tests for alcohol use and police are trained to spot drunk drivers before they hurt someone. Add to that checkpoints that become increasingly popular around holidays where people traditionally drink, like New Year’s Eve, and it becomes even more likely that people that drink and drive will be caught, even before an accident takes place.
However, with more and more states decriminalizing medical marijuana and an epidemic of people abusing prescription medications, the chances of someone being on the road while being impaired by legal drugs seems to be rising. However, unlike alcohol, where there is an easy way for police to check roadside, i.e. a breathalyzer, checking for drugs may involve a separate urine or blood test, which may not even be able to pinpoint when someone suspected of driving while impaired took those drugs.
However, driving while impaired by drugs can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving. Drugs such as marijuana and even over the counter sleep aids can drastically affect response times while driving while also affecting the ability to pay attention to the road. Too often arrests for driving while impaired only take place after someone has been killed or injured in a car accidents. Driving while impaired by drugs can carry penalties as harsh as those for drunk driving, even if proving guilt in court may be more difficult.
What is Distracted Driving?
More attention has been focused on distracted driving as well. The biggest focus in many states seems to be either talking on a cell phone or texting while driving. However, this is another thing that police may have a difficult time proving. In many states, the penalties are severe when an officer catches someone using their cell phone while driving. In other states, it may be illegal but there is little enforcement, leading people to ignore the law. Other types of distracted driving that could lead to accidents are drowsy driving, eating while driving or even speaking to a passenger. All of these present a danger on the road that is nearly equal to drinking and driving, yet do not face the same penalties.
Whatever the cause of impaired driving, whether it be drinking, drugs or distracted driving, the result is too often the same, injury or death to innocent parties who are using the roads at the same time as the impaired drivers. Many families lost loved ones every year to to impaired driving, and some areas still have to catch up in technology and law, to meet the advancement of ways that people have to drive impaired. Luckily, many ways of driving impaired are getting more attention in the last decade or so at the push of insurance companies and non-profit groups trying to avoid more accidents.