Driving while drunk or distracted risks injury to passengers, bystanders, and drivers alike. According to the National Health, Transportation, and Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s Twitter feed, distracted driving killed 3,154 people in 2013. Drunk driving killed 10,076 over the same time period. These two problems are so pervasive today that a new video game has been rolled out to educate teenagers about the dangers involved in committing these behaviors. Schools can purchase this new game for $15,000 from AB Distributing. A player has an option of either driving while wearing a pair of beer goggles or holding a cell phone, and can witness the results of each choice via the game.
Due to fears that teens may drink and get behind the wheel, some guardians have decided to allow supervised underage drinking to occur in their homes so they can monitor it. Studies show that home drinking may still result in many of the same problems as underage drinking outside the home does. After all, a teen can suffer alcohol poisoning as easily in the home as outside of it. Additionally, 90 percent of adults with alcohol problems began using controlled substances when they were in their teens. Lastly, the adult purchaser may face penalties, such as fines, jail time, or both. It is advised that if a teenager asks someone to buy them alcohol, the adult should refuse the request, tell the teen to wait until they are 21, and remind them that they never need alcohol to have fun even if they are of age.
Adults are also encouraged to be mindful of their own drinking habits – especially around minors. Hopefully, having good adult role models in terms of alcohol use will discourage new drivers from operating a vehicle while drunk or distracted, risking injury to themselves, and everyone around them.
As distracted driving incidents rise, many states are becoming involved in a new national campaign called You text. You drive. You pay. Washington State will begin its campaign on April 15. Start dates vary from state to state. The campaign will result in a driver being pulled over and ticketed if they are texting or using a non-hands-free cell phone.
Most people know that driving drunk or distracted poses risks to themselves and others. However, people sometimes find themselves in situations where they must travel with an impaired driver or drive while impaired themselves. Their only other option is to be left at an establishment with no ride home. Also, if they drove themselves, a person may have no way to retrieve their vehicle after they have sobered up. A third group of people may be driving with a driver who refuses to hang up the phone, and will order an objecting passenger out of the vehicle. Forty-five states have rolled out free, ride-home services for just such situations. A complete list is available at drinkinganddriving.org.
Some services will even drive a person’s car and drop them off at their house. The driving service Über has partnered with the non-profit to provide assistance for passengers faced with riding with a driver who is impaired or distracted. New Über users can get the first $20 of their first ride by using the code DODO.
Additionally, more communities offer services like this around holidays typically associated with drinking, like New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day. If someone suspects they will need these services during the holidays, they should pay attention to their local media. More information about the campaign to end distracted driving is available on Twitter using #justdrive. To locate Alcohol Awareness Month information, use #AlcoholAwarenessMonth.
Driving while distracted is becoming increasingly common as more people use mobile devices, and drunk driving continues to risk lives, costing more than 10,000 lives yearly. “To continue to make our roads safer, we must be as aggressive with distracted drivers as we have been with drunk drivers and people who refused to wear seat belts,” said acting Attorney General John Hoffman of New Jersey as his state planned to roll out its own You text. You drive. You pay. campaign.
By Martina Robinson
Photo by: Oregon Department of Transportation – Flickr License