Module 6: Alcohol and other drugs 02 (Alcohol and drugs affect driving ability )

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Did you know that alcohol is the number one killer?

Alcohol is the number one killer Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a problem that affects all Texans. According to Calendar Year 2014 Texas Vehicle Crash Highlights (Texas Department of Transportation), 1,041 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in which a driver was under the influence of alcohol. Accidents involving alcohol represent 29% of the total number of people who die in traffic accidents with vehicles. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of teen deaths in the US is car accidents. In 2011, about 2,650 teens (ages 16-19) died and nearly 292,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained in car accidents. This means that seven teens between the ages of 16 and 19 died each day due to injuries from car accidents. In 2013, Texas had the highest number of drunk driving deaths in the United States, and 17% of drivers aged 16-20 years involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC). 0.08 or greater. Not all teens involved in fatal accidents were drinking. Some were innocent passengers or victims of people who drink and drive. Perhaps one of those people who was killed or injured was a family member or your best friend. It could have been you. To make Texas safer, the Texas Legislature enacted laws to discourage people from drinking and driving by penalizing those who choose to drink and drive. In Texas, a person is considered legally intoxicated if they have a BAC of 0.08 or higher. Arrests for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and Driving Under the Influence (DUI) are costly and can be a humbling experience. Some fines can be as high as $ 10,000, not including the cost of the bail bondsman, attorney, or other mandatory court costs. Is it worth the risk?  

Any medication can affect a person’s ability to drive. Millions of people take prescription and over-the-counter medications, illegal drugs, or drink alcohol and do not realize that this can affect the mental and physical (psychomotor) abilities necessary to operate a vehicle and / or react to external events while driving a vehicle. . Every individual is different. The driving skills of people taking the same drug can be affected differently. The driver’s body weight, emotional state, how much and when the medication was taken influence the driver’s dexterity in assessing an emergency situation or judging speed and distance. Driving safely always requires an observant eye, a steady hand, and a clear head. When a person drinks alcohol or uses drugs, one of its first effects is that they lose their judgment and their vision decreases, causing slower reactions to sounds and the inability to judge the speed of another vehicle. The last thing that should happen is that a person’s ability to reason disappears. Good judgment can be as simple as saying no to a friend who wants to race your car. However, if the person has been drinking alcohol or is under the influence of drugs, their judgment may turn to “Sure, take my car.” Taking more than one drug at the same time is even more dangerous because the drugs have a different overall cumulative effect, especially when alcohol is involved. In addition to increasing the overall effects of other medications, alcohol can also mask the effects of these, increasing the risk that a person will make poor decisions and / or react slower to situations. You should always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking more than one type of medicine or mixing them, especially tranquilizers or sedatives.

MARIJUANA: Research shows that even typical doses of marijuana in social situations can affect concentration, judgment, and the sensory and perceptual skills necessary for safe driving. People under the influence of marijuana may have decreased sensory and perceptual abilities.  

STIMULANTS: Overuse of amphetamine can keep drivers awake and active for long periods of time. It also makes them less coordinated, more restless, and more likely to be involved in a car accident. Research shows that typical doses of cocaine in social situations can produce gaps in attention and concentration. Although caffeine can help drowsy drivers stay awake, it cannot help sober up a drunk driver. Studies show that normal amounts of caffeine do not improve a drunk driver’s ability to operate a vehicle.

TRANQUILIZERS AND HYPNOTIC SEDANTS: Tranquilizer and sedative-hypnotic medications, including barbiturates, are powerful depressants that calm people or help them sleep. Tired or heavily sedated drivers are not good drivers.    

OVER THE COUNTER DRUGS: Many over-the-counter medications make some people drowsy, which can affect the way they drive. Read labels and be careful around antihistamines, other cold preparations, or any medications that relax or promote sleep.  

 ANY DRUG: Any medication could affect your ability as a driver. If you take more than one medication or combine medications, especially tranquilizers or other sedative-hypnotics with alcohol, you could be looking for problems both on and off the road. If you have questions about a drug or drug mixture, ask a doctor or pharmacist.  

ALCOHOL: Each year alcohol, a depressant drug that affects coordination, judgment, perception and emotional state, is responsible for a significant number of road deaths. Alcohol increases the depressant effects of tranquilizers and barbiturates. Mixing these drugs, on and off the road, can be dangerous.