Security and Safety

Don’t Drive Impaired: Do You Know These Definitions?

By Casey Kelly-Barton 12.11.17

The holidays mean party prime time, busy nights of gift shopping and errands, and phones abuzz with messages from friends and family. All the merriment and distractions make December the perfect time to observe National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

Even if you think you know how to avoid driving while impaired, there are a few ways you could be less than safe behind the wheel without realizing it. In fact, anyone on a cell phone, on medication that causes drowsiness, or who has had a bad night’s sleep can find themselves driving while impaired.

What Qualifies as Impaired Driving?

Safety experts say impaired driving risks include:

Driving while texting or talking. Distracted drivers killed more than 3,400 Americans in 2015.

Driving while under the influence of prescription or over-the-counter medication. The Food and Drug Administration says antihistamines and sleep medications in particular can decrease drivers’ reaction time, impair judgment, and cause drowsiness behind the wheel.

Driving while tired. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving caused 846 deaths in 2014. Researchers say data on drowsy-driving crashes is hard to come by, but according to a 2009 study the toll could actually be as high as 8,000 lives per year. Moreover, almost half — 48 percent — of drowsy drivers nod off between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., the NHTSA says.

How to Prevent Impaired Driving

Know your limits and your mental state. When you’re tired, on medication, or have to be on your phone, find a ride instead of getting behind the wheel. With today’s ride-sharing options, it’s easier than ever to get reliable, affordable transportation when you need it.

Silence your phone. Pull over to a safe location if you need to talk or text.

Talk to your family and friends. Choose a responsible driver for outings and parties. If you’re hosting a holiday party, remind your guests to designate a driver. If you see a friend or family member who’s not safe to drive for any reason, help them get a ride home.

Share the word on social media. Keep the holidays happy and make sure you, your family, and your friends have safe rides home. #NationalImpairedDrivingPreventionMonth

Icy roads are another risk at this time of year. Talk to your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent to make sure your car is covered and ready for less-than-ideal conditions.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation.

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