Impairment

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.

Often when we think of impairment, we think of alcohol.  In recent years, the opioid crisis in New Hampshire has resulted in increasingly higher numbers of impaired drivers. Impaired driving can also occur when someone drives while under the influence of legally prescribed and/or over the counter medications. Additionally, as many States across the country legalize recreational marijuana, it is increasingly 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.

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.

Crash data from resources such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that at all levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of being involved in a crash is greater for young people than for older people.

SADD Logo

The Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) web site, states that Impaired driving puts teens at higher risks of injury or death and that:

  • Alcohol-related fatality rates are nearly twice as high for 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds as for those over age 21.
  • Young drivers are less likely than adults are to drive after drinking alcohol, but their crash risks are substantially higher when they do.
  • This risk is especially true at low and moderate blood alcohol concentrations and is thought to result from teens’ relative inexperience as new drivers.

Visit the SADD teen highway safety web pages at https://www.sadd.org/what-we-care-about/traffic-safety/.

Although we are inclined to believe that “our” teens would never consume alcohol or other illegal substances, we are naive to think that that they either don’t or that they will never be in a motor vehicle with a driver who has.

We need to take every step to educate teens about the true risks involved and convince them to never, ever drive impaired or ride in a vehicle with a friend, parent or other individual who is under the influence.