Driving is a complex task that requires attention, awareness, good judgment, coordination, and experience. Any substance that impairs a driver’s abilities in any of these areas creates unacceptable – and potentially deadly – risks.
Most people are familiar with the risks of using alcohol and driving. According to the 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index, nearly all people (89%) say that drinking and driving is “unacceptable.” Three out of four drivers say they consider drinking and driving a threat to their personal safety.
Despite this near-universal rejection of drinking and driving, alcohol-impaired drivers are involved in about one-third of all fatal crashes, killing more than 11,000 people in the United States each year. More alarming, 14% of drivers say that in the past year, they have driven after drinking to a point they believe may be at or over the legal limit.
But, alcohol isn’t the only drug that can impair drivers. In fact, many people use prescription or over-the-counter medications that can impair their driving.
A recent AAA Foundation study of the impact of medications on senior drivers showed that 78% of people 55 or older take medications that could impair driving, but only 28% had any awareness that the drugs that help them could impair their driving.
Responding to this situation, the Foundation recently introduced an online tool where people can enter the names of the prescription and over-the-counter medications they use and assess the potential impact and interactions.
By using our research resources to understand driver impairment and disseminating information and tools to manage these risks more effectively, we work to eliminate death and injuries on our roadways.
Key Facts: Impairment
- Alcohol impaired drivers are involved in more than about one in three fatal crashes
- 97% of drivers finding drinking and driving “unacceptable”
- 14% of drivers admit to driving at or near the legal alcohol limit in the past year
- 78% of seniors take one or more meds that can impair drivers