A report published this week finds high rates of fatal crashes involving drugged drivers and that alcohol-impaired drivers are more likely to cause traffic deaths and injuries.
The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) partners with the Indiana University Public Policy Institute to analyze crash statistics for the annual Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fact Sheet, which is available at www.in.gov/cji/files/Impaired_Driving_Fact_Sheet2018.pdf.
After a crash involving death or serious bodily injury, the responding law-enforcement agency is required to offer a portable breath test or blood test to the drivers involved. In 2018, more drivers tested positive for drugs after a fatal crash than were alcohol impaired.
Alcohol-impaired drivers were involved in 1.6 percent of Indiana property damage crashes and 3.2 percent of injury crashes, but fully 8 percent of fatal crashes. Rates of alcohol-impaired crashes in Indiana were highest on weekends between midnight and 4 a.m., the same time when the rate of traffic deaths and serious injuries were highest.
Vehicle drivers made up two thirds of road users killed in alcohol-impaired crashes, and about three fourths of alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal crashes were males.
Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving
AAA and mobility analytics company INRIX predict that 41.4 million Americans will travel by car this week for the Independence Day holiday, a 4.3 percent increase from last year. Drivers making their way home from summer festivities must remember that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.
In every state, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. In Indiana, drivers under age 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher are subject to fines and a driver’s license suspension for up to one year.
Impaired driving can also include prescription and illegal drugs. Even over-the-counter medication can cause impairment, especially when combined with alcohol or other drugs. Anyone taking a new or higher dose of a drug should speak with their doctor about driving or avoid it until they know the effect the drug could have.
This weekend, July 5-7, Indiana Conservation Officers will increase enforcement of boating-under-the-influence laws, which are the same on bodies of water as they are on the road. More information is on the national Operation Dry Water website, www.operationdrywater.org.
Motorcycles are about 3 percent of registered vehicles, but are dramatically over-represented in impaired driving crashes. And the more that bikers are impaired, the less likely they are to wear helmets.
Sober driving tips
With all of today’s options for getting home safely, there’s no excuse for getting behind the wheel impaired as it endangers you and everyone else around you. Law enforcement recommends these safe alternatives to impaired driving:
Designate, or be, a sober driver.
Use public transportation.
Call a cab or a ridesharing service.
Download the SaferRide mobile app on the Apple App Store or Android Play Store. This simple app only has three options: call a taxi, call a friend, and identify your location for pickup.
Celebrate at home or a place where you can stay until sober.
Throwing a party? Offer non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of food.
Never provide alcohol to minors.
Ask young drivers about their plans.
Friend or family member about to drive? Take the keys and make alternate arrangements.
Report impaired drivers
If you see an impaired driver, turn off the road away from the vehicle and call 911. Signs of impaired driving include:
Weaving, swerving, drifting, or straddling the center line
Driving at a very slow speed
Making wide turns
Stopping without cause
Responding slowly to traffic signals
Driving after dark with headlights off
Closely missing an object or vehicle
Turning abruptly or illegally
Driving on the wrong side of the road
Drivers should also watch for impaired pedestrians who may not be paying attention to their surroundings.