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In 2012, an average of one alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurred every 51 minutes, totaling more than 10,000 deaths throughout the year.
Impaired driving is a serious issue, and it affects many more than only those involved in drunk driving crashes. The misuse or abuse of alcohol greatly increases the chance of injuries in the workplace and beyond, and American businesses bear much of the costs in higher insurance premiums for employer-based health insurance tied to alcohol problems.
What's the Problem
Drinking and Driving
Whether it’s referred to as drunk driving, driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence, impaired driving simply means a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle is compromised by alcohol and other drugs that change the function of the brain and body.
Drunk driving is obviously dangerous, but it also can be extremely costly to your business. Alcohol use is a factor in 39 percent of all work-related crashes. Happy hours and other celebrations among colleagues often can result in sad endings, such as serious injury or death.
Factors of Impaired Driving
In all 50 states it is illegal to drive with a .08 blood alcohol concentration; however, driving ability can be impaired below the legal alcohol limit. “Buzzed driving” can be just as dangerous as drunk driving because impairment begins with the first drink. Even if there is no .08 BAC reading, an arrest can be made on the observations of the officer using roadside sobriety checks.
A person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle also is compromised by illegal drugs, prescription drugs and even over-the-counter medications. These drugs have the potential to affect an employee’s judgment, depth perception, coordination and reaction time and should be taken seriously.
According to the George Washington University Medical Center, a typical company with 100 employees will feel these effects of alcohol on operations and expenses:
What You Can Do
Promote Sober Driving
As an employer, you can help save lives by promoting safe driving on and off the job. Reducing the incidence of impaired driving can be a profitable investment through implementing a company-wide sober driving policy.
Remind employees that not only is it against the law to drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, but sober driving also prevents injuries and deaths.
Offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
Acknowledge the connection between impaired driving and misuse of alcohol and other drugs, and adopt strategies to encourage employees with problems to seek help through Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and drug-free workplace programs.
These programs can result in various benefits for your company, including lower medical costs, reduced turnover and absenteeism and higher employee productivity and morale.
Establish a Workplace-Based Substance Abuse Prevention Program
A workplace-based substance abuse prevention program could include:
National Safety Council
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