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Impaired Driving

Approximately every 29 minutes, someone is hurt or killed in Texas in a crash involving alcohol. In 2012, there were 1,099 fatalities in Texas due to crashes involving a DUI. 

Impaired driving is a serious issue in Texas, 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

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 2012, 32.3 percent of all fatalities in motor vehicle crashes in Texas 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.
Facts of Impaired Driving 

In Texas, drivers are legally intoxicated and can be arrested and charged with a DWI 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.

49.6 percent of all fatally injured drivers in Texas tested for alcohol had a BAC of at least .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 Texas 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 Employers 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 

 A project of the National Safety Council
in cooperation with the Texas Department of Transportation.

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