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Impaired Driving

In 2009, an average of one alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurred every 48 minutes, totaling 10,839 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.

In 2009, 32 percent of all fatalities in motor vehicle crashes involved a driver under the influence of alcohol.

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.

In 2009, 84 percent of the drivers with a BAC of .01 or higher who were involved in fatal crashes had BAC levels at or above .08.

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.

Employer Costs
According to the George Washington University Medical Center, a typical company with 100 employees will feel these effects of alcohol on operations and expenses:

  • Among employees and dependents, 22 people will have a drinking problem.
  • Two extra workdays will be lost each month, costing an average of $3,466 per year in wages (not including impact on productivity and revenue).
  • 31 employees and dependents will be affected by other consequences of alcohol abuse, including impaired driving, depression, violence, arrest and jail.

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.

Sample Sober Driving Policy

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:

  • Confidential screening and counseling
  • Worksite awareness programs
  • Web-based information, referrals to treatment
  • Recovery support for workers in treatment
  • Supervisor training to spot productivity problems

What's New

St. Patrick’s Day Impaired Driving Campaign
For many Americans, St. Patrick’s Day has become a popular night out to celebrate with friends and family. Unfortunately, due to the large volume of drunk drivers, the night out has also become very dangerous. Encourage your employees and co-workers to plan a safe way home before the festivities begin with these St. Patrick’s Day materials from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. And remember—“Luck won’t keep you out of a jam this St. Patrick’s Day!”

CDC Releases Binge Drinking Report
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report detailing the prevalence, frequency and intensity of binge drinking among adults in the United States. Binge drinking accounts for more than half of the estimated 80,000 average annual deaths and three quarters of the $223.5 billion in economic costs resulting from excessive alcohol consumption in the United States. It also is a major risk factor for motor vehicle crashes, as 85% of all alcohol-impaired driving episodes were reported by persons who also reported binge drinking.

New Video: "Happy Hour FAIL"
A new video produced by the "Who's Driving Tonight?" campaign details the consequences of impaired driving. It takes a look at the financial, social and work-related consequences involved with impaired driving through modern day practices in a thoughtful and unique way.

New Technology to Prevent Drunk Driving Tested
United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood participated in a demonstration of a new piece of technology that would help prevent drunk driving. The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) detects blood alcohol content in drivers and prevents alcohol-impaired driver from operating their vehicles. The technology is still a prototype, and automakers would not be required to install the devices.


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