Driving is a very demanding activity that requires a serious responsibility, attitudes with physical and mental abilities for safety. Alcohol and drugs can interfere with even the most skilled and experiened drivers’ safely. In order to drive safely, you must be alert, aware of your environment and able to make decisions. Your hands, feet and eyes are required to control the vehicle, and consumption or use of alcohol or drugs alter the function of your brain, which controls all of these. This can lead to unsafe driving for drivers themselves, as well as those on the road around them.
Alcohol blunts alertness and reduces motor concentration, harms your reaction time, and affects your vision. In addition, it alters your depth perception which makes it difficult to tell whether other vehicles, pedestrians or objects are close or far away. It can also affect your judgement, making some drivers overconfident, where they may not recognize their driving skills have been reduced. Their driving also becomes reckless and careless, involving speeding, driving off the road, and too often, crashing. Since alcohol is also classified as a depressent drug, it slows down your body and your brain.
Police officers are trained to recognize signs of driver impairment. Examples can include erratic driving, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and unsteady balance. If a police officer has reasonable suspicion to believe a driver may be under the influence, he or she can require the driver to perform certain coordination tests, submit to an evaluation, or provide samples for analysis. Drugs can also alter even the most experienced drivers’ skills. Other depressent drugs such as sedatives and painkillers also affect a person’s ability to drive in a similar way to alcohol.
Stimulants such as coffee, amphetamines, and cocaine increase alertness, but this does not mean they improve driving skills. This feeling of alterness can be quickly worn off. At this point the only remedy is to get off the road and sleep. Drivers which take stimulant drugs also commonly feel overconfident which can lead to risky driing. Some stimulants such as cocaine can also impair vision, leading to hallucinations. Those who take large doses or amphetamines are also suseptible to feelings of hostility and aggression.
Marijuana, a more common drug can impair depth perception, attention span, and concentraton, slow reaction time, and can decrease muscle strength and hand steadiness. These and other side effects, can affect a person’s ability to drive safely. Other hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD and ecstasy can distort perception and mood. Driving under the influence of any of these drugs can be extremely dangerous. Many drivers try to use common myths or excuses in the events of driving under the influence. Some of these include “I can hold my booze. “, “I’m sober enough to drive. “, “All i need is something to eat and I’ll be fine.
“, and even “I don’t drink and drive but driving after a joint is fine. ” Alcohol does impair your vision, concentration, and ability to react to unexpected hazards on the road. You are not able to anticipate when this impairment will kick in, since your judgement has been impaired even though you may feel confident. The common myth of eating before drinking is that you will be fine if you eat first. This isn’t the case, although it is a good idea, eating will not act as a defence against impaired driving. The only cure is time. It takes approximately six hours for your body to eliminate the alcohol from your body, leaving you with an 0.
08 blood alcohol concentration, the legal limit. And finally, studies have shown that marijuana before driving can be just as dangerous as drinking before driving. Drug impairment ranges from slowed reflexes, flawed depth perception, to hallucinations or seizures. Impaired driving is the largest single criminal cause of death and injury in Canada. On average, over 1,200 Canadians die and over 71,500 are injured per year. Young drivers who drink or use drugs while driving are particularly at sick for accidents due to lack or experience, peer pressure, and they are more likely to engage in risk taking behaviour.
Studies have shown that people convicted of impaired driving come from numerous backgrounds, ages, and income groups. Although, studies have shown that most of these people are men, and also possess an “anti-social attitude”, which is lack of respect for the law or safety of others, and also almost all convicted have reported they have driven under the influence many times before. The number of people who drink and drive in Ontario has declined over the past years from 13% in 1996 to 6% in 2009. This has to do with people taking responsibility and innitiative of being the designated driver, or taking cabs and public transit.
Even though the improvements in the past, drinking and driving is still a major cause of injury and death. Personally, I am against impaired driving. I find it unsafe and it puts you and others at major risk. Having been personally affected by impaired driving, as my mother was arrested for a DUI earlier this year, I find it unacceptable. Her experience has taught me the dangers of this act, and the consequences that come with it. Hopefully through the improvements in the past, and in the future this crime can be dealt with and even elimated one day.