It’s the holiday season, now, and unfortunately that also means the season for drinking and driving.
Fortunately, annual campaigns against impaired driving do have a real effect; in 2013, not only were drunk driving fatalities down overall, but December ended up with the fewest such fatalities all year. This year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to build on its successes in past years with a fifteen day holiday crackdown, an ad campaign, and a new smartphone app.
In the United States, about a third of all traffic fatalities involve alcohol. Add in other drugs, and the cost of impaired driving rises even higher. Drunk or drugged drivers not only put themselves at risk, they also endanger everyone else on the road.
Drunk driving, defined as a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or greater, is illegal in every state in the US and in Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Because people under 21 should not be drinking to begin with, it is illegal for young drivers to have any alcohol in their system. Older drivers should be aware that BAC 0.08 is just the legal limit; any alcohol in the blood causes some degree of impairment and is not safe.
NHTSA is launching a three-part campaign to minimize impaired driving around the holidays this year.
First, there are cops. A big problem in the fight against drunk driving is that most people who drink and drive are never caught. There are simply too many other things for most law enforcement departments to pay attention to. Drivers know that if they want to drink, odds are in their favor that they’ll get away with it—until they cause an accident. Starting December 15th, though, police departments all across the country are making a special push to change the odds for the holidays. Until January 1st, catching impaired drivers will be a priority.
Second, the US Department of Transportation has put $8 million into an advertising campaign in order to tell people to Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. The idea is for the adds to support the other components, to educate the public both about the increased police attention and about the dangers of impaired driving to begin with.
Third, NHTSA’s app, SaferRide is now available on Google Play for Android devices. The app makes it easier for users who have been drinking to call a friend or a taxi for a ride. The app even identifies the user’s location.
Companies that manage a fleet have a fourth option: investing in safety software that helps businesses monitor their safest and most liable drivers. This level of analysis helps managers view safety trends across the company and provide real-time insight to their employees, minimizing the risk of unstable and inebriated driving.
What this all means for professional drivers is that working over the holidays just got a lot safer.