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Consumer Tips: Drinking, Drugs and Driving Don't Mix


January 31, 2018

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More than 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in the U.S. in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s one alcohol-impaired driving death every 50 minutes.

Driving under the influence of marijuana is also a concern. As more states move to legalize recreational marijuana usage, drivers should be aware that it’s still illegal and dangerous to drive while marijuana-impaired.

A recent Harris Poll survey found that while 91 percent of Americans believe driving under the influence of marijuana is dangerous and 87 percent say those who do so are a hazard to others on the road, just 40 percent believe it is contributing to more motor vehicle crashes.

Follow these tips to keep roads safer for drivers, passengers and pedestrians:

For drivers – plan ahead, so it’s easy to make the right choice if you’re impaired

  • Choose a designated driver before you go out. Make sure they agree to stay alcohol- and drug-free.
  • Download a ridesharing app such as Lyft, or program your local taxi’s number into your phone. That way, you can get a safe ride home if you need one with the touch of a button.
  • Stay with a friend or book a nearby hotel room if you are impaired.
  • Understand your medications. Visit Roadwise Rx, a free tool from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that motorists can use to see how their medications affect their driving safety.

For hosts – plan parties with safety in mind and minimize liability

  • Offer non-alcoholic drink options and serve plenty of food.
  • Never serve minors.
  • Stop serving alcohol well before the party ends.
  • Consider using a professional bartender. They can recognize signs of impairment and limit alcohol.
  • Remind guests to plan ahead and designate a sober driver.
  • Don’t be afraid to take car keys away from guests who are too impaired to drive.
  • Help arrange alternate transportation or accommodations for guests who need it.

For everyone – take steps to protect yourself

  • Always wear your seatbelt. Nearly half of all vehicle occupants killed in car accidents were not wearing seat belts, according to NHTSA.
  • If you spot someone who appears to be an impaired driver when you are on the road, keep a safe distance and call 9-1-1 if it is safe to do so. Do not attempt to stop the other driver yourself.
  • Talk to friends and family about the dangers of impaired driving. Parents should talk to their children about this issue long before their teens get into the driver’s seat.

Call your AAA insurance agent or insurance customer service, or visit your local branch for more information about auto and home insurance.