Drinking, drugs, and driving

In the united states, there are approximately 150 million drivers. Of these, about 70 percent drink alcoholic beverages at least occasionally. Alcohol is a major factor in at least 50 percent of all traffic fatalities.

Approximately 50,000 people die in highway accidents each year. Thousands more are injured, sometimes permanently. Traffic accidents are so frequent that, unless the individuals are personally known, the injuries or fatalities become mere statistics and are quickly forgotten.

Traffic accidents do not always happen to the other person! Anyone can become a victim. Thousands of innocent people, many of them Children, passengers, or non-drinking drivers, are senselessly crippled or killed by alcohol-impaired drivers. Any social drinker, occasional drinker, or alcoholic can contribute to these traumatic injuries and loss of life. There is no social, economic, sexual, or racial distinction for classifying a drunk driver.

Alcohol: alcohol is a depressant and is the most commonly-abused drug. It slows down the central nervous system and brain functions, reduces coordination and reflex actions. Alcohol also impairs vision and perspective judgment. Under the influence of alcohol, emotions can be distorted and intensified, leading to extreme reactions and loss of control.

Alcohol consumption: a 12-oz. Can of beer, a 5-oz. Glass of wine, and a 1 1/2-oz. Shot of hard liquor all contain the same amount of alcohol. Coffee, cold showers, and exercise do not quicken sobriety. Each one-half ounce of alcohol takes the average body about one hour to process and eliminate. Only passage of time will free the body from the effects of alcohol.

If the choice is made to drink:

Recent studies of admission statistics for emergency trauma centres indicate that drivers using drugs such as marijuana, PCP, and cocaine were involved in over 30 percent of all reported traffic crashes. Studies of fatally-injured drivers show that over 10 percent had drugs other than alcohol in their systems at the time of the crash.

Combining drugs with alcohol multiplies the problems and the effects. Behind the wheel this is a deadly combination! Law enforcement agencies involved in aggressive drugged driver detection estimate that between 10 percent and 20 percent of the "driving under the influence" arrests involve drugs in combination with alcohol.

It is important to realize that all drugs chemically alter the mind, body functions, and motor skills, hindering judgment, perception, reaction time, and other skills necessary for competent driving. Categories of drugs and the effects that impair a person's ability to drive safely are:

Marijuana: a derivative of the hemp plant, illegally used for its intoxicating effects, dreamy State of relaxation, and euphoria. One to two marijuana cigarettes decreases motor skills and reaction times by as much as 63 percent. Studies have indicated that 60 percent to 80 percent of marijuana users drive while "high" and a large percentage use alcohol in combination with marijuana, intensifying the following effects:

Hours after the "high" has worn off, the influence of the drug remains in the user's system and may Continue to impair driving abilities. Unlike alcohol, which dissipates in hours, marijuana stays in the body for days.

Hallucinogens: drugs that alter and distort the concepts of reality. Visual distortions are common. Accidents occur because a user cannot depend on what appears to be a reality, resulting in complete disorientation.

PCP: a synthetic anesthetic drug, legally used for veterinary purposes but abused as a hallucinogen. PCP causes:

Stimulants: drugs that stimulate the central nervous system and excite functional activity in the body. Many drivers use stimulants to "help them stay awake" during long trips. The stimulant masks natural fatigue and the user will have a tendency to push his body beyond its physical capabilities. Stimulants cause:

Depressants: drugs that produce a calming effect and slow down the central nervous system. Depressants cause:

Narcotic analgesics: opium derivatives or synthetic opiates, medically used to reduce pain and illegally used to create mood elevation. Narcotic analgesics cause: