Road hazards present themselves at every opportunity, but the potential for accidents and injuries is amplified when drivers take to the roads under the influence of alcohol and controlled substances. The pace of travel on roadways requires safe drivers to exhibit quick reflexes and sound judgement when operating motor vehicles.
Distractions impact attentiveness among drivers, whether within the car or resulting from external roadway conditions. Sights and sounds of the road disrupt concentration, and today’s electronic gadgetry finds its way into the consciousness of drivers too – often at the most inopportune moments. It is essential then, that all drivers are in full control of their faculties, at all times, or problems are likely to occur.
Substances Change how the Body Functions
Alcohol and driving are not good bedfellows, because the substance impacts the body in ways that are in direct conflict with safe vehicle operation. The body has the ability to process about an ounce of alcohol every hour. Since most drinks contain about this much alcohol, whether glasses of wine or mugs of beer, it is safe to estimate that one drink per hour does not automatically impair an individual. When drinks stack up, however, the impact is multiplied to unsafe proportions.
Slowed reactions are one of the hallmarks of alcohol consumption. Hand eye coordination, and the time it takes to respond to external stimuli are reduced in direct proportion to the number of drinks consumed. On the road, the most valuable faculty for safe driving is quick response. When it is impaired by alcohol consumption, response time slows to create dangerous circumstances.
Visual acuity is impacted by alcohol, causing blurred vision and depth perception problems. Motor vehicle operation requires clear vision, especially at night, when visibility is automatically decreased. Unfortunately, impaired drivers take to the roadways most frequently after dusk, when alcohol consumption commonly occurs.
Coordination, in general, is impaired by excessive alcohol consumption, so even the simplest driving-related tasks are difficult to execute while impaired. Operating the pedals and steering the vehicle cannot be done safely by drunk drivers, because mechanical abilities are diminished by over consumption.
Alcohol is a depressant, so its natural tendency is to make people tired. Accidents occur when drivers drift-off to sleep while impaired, losing control of vehicles, and causing harm to themselves and others. Coffee is believed to counteract the effects of alcohol, but this is not proven on roadways, where drivers drink coffee and still harm bystanders.
Types of Accidents Caused by Impaired Drivers
Driving under the influence of alcohol is not the only impaired driving practice people regularly engage in. Drugs, both prescribed and illicit, are responsible for impaired driver conditions too, resulting in countless traffic incidents. Poorly managed prescription drug use, and interactions between substances catch drivers off guard, causing them to drive recklessly.
Safe protocol demands that people on medication understand the risks associated with the prescriptions they take, and the potential side effects they may cause. Drug interactions should be discussed with pharmacists and doctors, before attempting to operate machinery.
Road accidents caused by impaired drivers manifest themselves in several ways. Personal injuries and property damage resulting in claims are likely outcomes for drunk drivers, who lack the ability to safely interpret road conditions. Sideswiped vehicles, and rear-end accidents are left in the wakes of impaired drivers who cannot judge distances and speeds accurately.
Failure to yield to other motorists is another common infraction among impaired drivers. Unfortunately, this draws unsuspecting motorists into harm’s way, when they are struck and injured by drunken motorists failing to stop. While single vehicle drunk driving accidents are common, and preferred, safe drivers get hurt in impaired driver collisions too.
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