U.S. Army Combat Readiness / Safety Center
December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, established by presidential proclamation to expand traditional alcohol-based safety programs to include abuse of legal and illegal drugs. Many driving safety experts agree the probability of drunk and impaired driving accidents increases between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
The U.S. Army Combat Readiness / Safety Center is promoting awareness of the problem of drunk and drugged driving – known as 3D – as part of an ongoing effort to reach out to Soldiers, Army Civilians and Family Members on the topic of off-duty safety.
“Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is deadly,” said Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Edens, director of Army Safety and commanding general, U.S. Army Combat Readiness / Safety Center. “Drunk and drugged driving is a serious public health concern, because it puts not only the driver at risk, but also passengers and others who share the road.”
The prevalence of alcohol and prescription drugs on American roadways is concerning.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that during 2010, more than 10,000 Americans died in alcohol-related crashes, an average of one death every 51 minutes. Drugged drivers only add to this already alarming figure; more than 10 million motorists reported operating a motor vehicle under the influence of illicit drugs during the year before the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
According to NHTSA, alcohol-related fatalities are about four times more likely at night and approximately three times more likely on weekends. And, with about 16 percent of nighttime drivers testing positive for either illegal or prescription drugs nationally, motorists should remain especially aware on the road after sunset.
Fortunately, the same safety measures that have reduced drunk driving accidents can help prevent drugged driving mishaps. Always designate a sober driver before any event involving alcohol, take the keys away from friends who are impaired, and never ride with a driver you suspect to be under the influence of either alcohol or drugs – call a cab for both of you instead. Recognize that drugged driving is as risky as drunk driving, with many of the same legal repercussions.
The facts are there: Don’t let drunk or drugged driving rob you of the spirit of the season. If you or a battle buddy have a substance abuse problem, contact your local Army Substance Abuse Program office.