Impairment continues to be a leading cause of motor vehicle crashes. In recent years, almost 40% of all crashes in New Hampshire involved driver impairment. From 2009-2018, 354 people were killed in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver in New Hampshire. Driving while impaired by any substance can be deadly.
Often when we think of impairment, we think of alcohol. In recent years, the opioid crisis in New Hampshire has resulted in increasly higher numbers of impaired drivers.2 Impaired Driving can also occur when someone drives while under the influence of legally prescribed and/or over the counter medications.2 Additionally, as many states across the country legalize recreational marijuana, it is increasly easier to obtain and its effects are often misunderstood. It is important for teens to remember that if a driver’s mental state is altered by marijuana, they are driving impaired.3
Impaired driving can have serious consequences, including injury and death.24 Impaired driving is entirely preventable.4
|Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in g/dL||Typical Effects||Predictable Effects on Driving|
|.02||Some loss of judgment; relaxation, slight body warmth, altered mood||Decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target), decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time (divided attention)|
|.05||Exaggerated behavior, may have loss of small-muscle control (e.g., focusing your eyes), impaired judgment, usually good feeling, lowered alertness, release of inhibition||Reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, reduced response to emergency driving situations|
|.08||Muscle coordination becomes poor (e.g., balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing), harder to detect danger; judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are impaired||Concentration, short-term memory loss, speed control, reduced information processing capability (e.g., signal detection, visual search), impaired perception|
|.10||Clear deterioration of reaction time and control, slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinking||Reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately|
|.15||Far less muscle control than normal, vomiting may occur (unless this level is reached slowly or a person has developed a tolerance for alcohol), major loss of balance||Substantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving task, and in necessary visual and auditory information processing|
Below is a social change PSA created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stressing the fact that “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different” and noting the fact that driving under the influence of marijuana is grounds for arrest and a DUI charge.
Being a responsible driver is simple. It is illegal for teens to consume alcohol or use substances, but if you find yourself in a situation here are some tips:
If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions could help save someone’s life.