Let’s Prevent Impaired Driving!

10 Prevention Tips

1. Be a designated driver.

2. Educate friends and family members on the dangers of driving under the influence.

3. Provide treatment and counseling options.

4. Provide alternate transportation options such as Uber, Lyft, or a taxi service.

5. Seek or refer others struggling with alcohol abuse to community assistance like local 12 step & AA groups.

6. Seek or refer others to a mentorship program that emphasizes accountability.

7. Correct the misperception that “everybody is drinking”.

8. Teach youth ways to say no to alcohol. Use interactive teaching techniques (e.g., small-group activities, role plays, and peer leadership).

9. Never provide alcohol to a minor.

10. Revisit the topic over the years to reinforce prevention messages.

Impaired driver distracted by coffee and food

Impaired Driving Prevention

"Drivers spend more than half their time focused on things other than driving" — AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

On today's crowded roadways, inattention can be deadly. Driving is a task that requires a person's full attention, as they have to be able to recognize a situation on the road and react within seconds. Anything that takes a driver's eyes off the road can have a negative effect on reaction time.

Distracted driving is a major contributor to car crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people were killed and 387,000 injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011. Contrary to popular belief, talking on a cell phone (hand-held or hands-free) isn't the only form of distraction behind the wheel.

Have you ever done any of these activities while driving?

  • Talking to a passenger
  • Eating lunch
  • Tending to a child or pet passenger
  • Brushed your hair or applied makeup
  • Read a map or printed directions
  • Used your navigation system or adjusted the radio, CD or mp3 player

If you answered yes to any of these, then you have engaged in distracting behaviors behind the wheel.

Types Of Distraction

Distractions fall into three categories:

  • Visual - Eyes off the road
  • Manual - Hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive - Mind off the task of driving

Cognitive distraction can come in many forms, including thinking about your long “to-do" list, reflecting on a conversation you had or something that happened earlier in the day, or having a conversation on your hands-free device. Cognitive distraction is particularly problematic because—although the driver may be looking at the road or maneuvering the steering wheel with both hands—their mind is focused on something other than the task of driving.

Understanding Distraction Infograph

Things to consider

Some signs that a driver is distracted include:

  • They weave or drift into other lanes of traffic
  • Delayed reaction time (i.e. when the light changes and they don't proceed)
  • Over corrections
  • Passing their exit or turn without noticing or is unaware how far they've driven

Do you recognize any of these in yourself?

The best thing to do when driving is focus on the task at hand—driving. It's safer for you, for your passengers and for other drivers. Try these tips for avoiding distraction behind the wheel:

  • Plan ahead. Read maps and check traffic conditions before you get on the road or pull off the road to a safe place.
  • Get comfortable first. Adjust seats, mirrors, climate controls and program radio stations before you start driving.
  • Stow electronic devices. Avoid the temptation to look at your phone and read or respond to text messages/emails by turning the device off and stowing it in the glove box. If you must call, text or email, pull over and park in a safe place first.
  • Delegate. Designate a passenger to read any texts and answer your phone, if necessary.
  • Make sure cargo is secure. Secure children, pets and luggage or bags before getting underway. If anything needs your attention during your drive, pull off the road safely before addressing it.
  • Take breaks. Eat meals or snacks before, after or during scheduled stops on your trip, not while driving.
  • Get ready before you go. Finish dressing and personal grooming before you get in the car.
  • Stay alert. Make awareness your priority: scan the road ahead, follow at a safe distance and use your mirrors to be ready to react to any situation you may encounter. Also remember to be mindful of pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Self-evaluate. When you are on the road as a passenger or pedestrian, take a look around and honestly evaluate yourself to see if you engage in some of the behaviors you see in other drivers.

THE LAW IN NEW JERSEY

In New Jersey, there are laws against talking on a cell phone (hand-held and/or hands-free) and texting while driving. All the laws are primary, meaning drivers can be pulled over and ticketed for the offense. These laws include:

  • Ban on hand-held cell phone use for all drivers
  • Ban on all cell phone use (hand-held or hands-free) for school bus drivers
  • Ban on all cell phone use (hand-held or hands-free) for novice drivers
  • Texting while driving ban for all drivers

University Of Utah Research

Cognitive distraction is the subject of a recent research project undertaken by Dr. David Strayer at the University of Utah. Having studied the effects of distracted driving for more than a decade, Dr. Strayer—at the request of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety—turned his focus to cognitive distraction and measured drivers' performance as they engaged in different tasks behind-the-wheel, to determine how a variety of activities and in-vehicle technologies actually affect drivers.

Some of the findings from Dr. Strayer's groundbreaking research revealed that phone conversations had the same effect on drivers' performance, regardless of whether they were on a hand-held or hands-free device, and that new vehicle technologies, including voice-activiated “infotainment" systems are extremely distracting, even though the drivers' eyes are on the road and hands are on the wheel.

Read the full study