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Drive Sober: December Marks Impaired Driving Awareness Month

Drunk man driving a car with a bottle of beer at the night. Don't drink and drive concept.

Drunk driving crashes in California spike over the winter holidays.

Festive gatherings for winter holidays and alcohol can be a lethal mix, leading some to make the reckless decision to drive under the influence. In December 2021 alone, 1,013 fatalities resulted from drunk driving crashes.

With more than 21 million instances of drunk driving on U.S. roads expected for the period between now and January 1, the annual Impaired Driving Awareness campaign kicked off at the start of December. This year, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) launched ToGetThere, a new campaign urging Americans to take action against impaired driving.

Over the holidays, drunk driving-related crashes are expected to surge as much as 40 percent in California and across the nation. Whether you're going for a drive to see the Bay Area's best light displays, going to a holiday party, a tree-lighting ceremony, or another holiday celebration, here is some information that can help keep you safe on the road.

Types of impaired driving

Impaired driving involves operating a vehicle under the influence of substances or conditions, compromising a driver's abilities, and is dangerous due to increased risks of accidents, injuries, and fatalities. While alcohol remains a significant factor, everyone needs to recognize that drugs and other factors can impair driving abilities, as well.

  • Alcohol impairment/drunk driving: Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that significantly affects a driver's abilities. Even small amounts can impair coordination, judgment, and reaction time.
  • Drug impairment/driving high /drugged driving: Various drugs, including prescription medications, illicit substances, and over-the-counter medications, can impair driving abilities. Opioids, marijuana, and certain medications can cause drowsiness, altered perception, and diminished cognitive functions, leading to an increased risk of accidents.
  • Physical impairment/illness. Challenges like fatigue or medical conditions can compromise a driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely. Fatigue, often underestimated, can mimic the effects of alcohol impairment, resulting in slower reaction times and decreased alertness. Medical conditions that affect motor skills, vision, or cognitive functions can also pose significant risks on the road.
  • Mental or emotional impairment. Mental health conditions, stress, and emotional distress can impair a driver's focus and decision-making.

Tips to avoid impaired driving

Over the winter holidays, the most common types of impaired driving accidents usually involve head-on collisions, rear-end crashes, and single-vehicle accidents. Friends, family, and awareness campaigns can encourage good driving decisions, but ultimately, it's up to individual drivers to prevent drunk driving accidents. Here are some tips to avoid driving under the influence this holiday season:

  • Plan ahead. Arrange a designated driver or use rideshare services (e.g., Uber or Lyft) before holiday gatherings.
  • Always drive 100 percent sober. Even one alcoholic beverage could be one too many.
  • Speak up. Passengers can ensure everyone's safety by speaking up if the driver appears impaired.
  • Stay informed. Be aware of the risks associated with impaired driving due to alcohol, drugs, or other factors.
  • Utilize technology. Consider using apps or devices that can help determine sobriety.
  • Call 911. If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact police. Signs that another driver might be drunk include erratic lane changes, inconsistent speed, delayed reactions, and poor coordination.
  • Take the keys. If you have a friend who is about to drink and drive, take the keys away and let a sober driver get your friend home safely.

If you were hit by a drunk driver in the East Bay, our car accident attorneys can help

Drunk driving accidents spike around the holidays, putting everyone on the road at a greater risk of serious injuries and death. That's not right. If you were injured or a loved one died after getting hit by an impaired driver, we can help you seek justice and compensation. Schedule a free case evaluation with Clancy & Diaz, LLP. Our experienced accident attorneys help injured victims throughout the Bay Area. Contact us today.

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