Impaired Drivers

September 4, 2009


Most of us think of impaired drivers as those under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  However, a driver doesn’t have to be legally drunk to be “impaired.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 41 percent of fatal traffic accidents in 2001 involved alcohol. Even though “intoxicated” drivers with blood alcohol levels of .10 and above are involved in the majority of fatalities, in 2000, alcohol was a factor in almost 70,000 reported accidents where the levels were below or only slightly above the .08 legal limit for most states.

Other impairments are just as alarming as alcohol consumption. Most of us have probably driven under the influence of drugs without realizing it. Many common prescription and over-the-counter-medications may cause adverse effects such as slowed reactions, sleepiness, nervousness or agitation, especially during the initial course of treatment. It’s important to heed the warning labels on all medications and be aware of the hazards of driving while taking them.

Drowsy driving is an increasing factor in accidents. Fatigue and sleepiness may be the result of not getting enough sleep, interrupted sleep, shift work and untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy. The effects of sleepiness and even a small amount of alcohol compounds the adverse effect on psychomotor skills. One study showed that drivers with a low level of alcohol were four times more likely to stray off the road after four hours of sleep than after eight hours of sleep.

Studies also show that talking on a cell phone while driving is more dangerous than being drunk behind the wheel. Results of a British study showed that drivers’ reaction times averaged 30 percent slower when talking on a hand-held phone compared to being drunk and nearly 50 percent slower than under normal driving conditions. Drivers were less able to maintain a constant speed and keep a safe distance from the car in front.

Help your employees understand the dangers of impaired driving and take advantage of the countless risk management resources Federated can provide. 

This article provided courtesy of Federated Mutual Insurance Company, your association’s recommended insurer.  This publication is intended to provide general recommendations regarding risk prevention.  It is not intended to include all steps or processes necessary to adequately protect you, your business or your customers. You should always consult your personal attorney and insurance professional for advice unique to you and your business.  ©Copyright 2003 Federated Mutual Insurance Company, All Rights Reserved. 

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