Getting Festive This Weekend? Act Responsibly.

By Woody Hill, Vice President of Safety Services

By Woody Hill, Vice President of Safety Services

About three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives, and alcohol-impaired driving accounts for about 40 percent of fatal crashes, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

In the Lone Star State during 2013, 1,100 Texans were killed in crashes involving a driver who was under the influence of alcohol.

Impaired driving is a serious, potentially fatal issue, particularly around Labor Day weekend and other holidays, when festive gatherings among family and friends are in full swing.

Accidents involving alcohol get the majority of attention, but alcohol is not the only culprit. Illegal drugs, prescription drugs and even seemingly harmless over-the-counter drugs can affect our ability to safely operate a vehicle.

If you are taking medication, ask your physician about side effects, such as drowsiness, slower reaction times, impaired judgment and dizziness. Read labels carefully, and follow their directions consistently. And remember that combining drugs and alcohol can multiply their effects.

So far, we’ve focused on strategies for ensuring you are in optimal condition behind the wheel. But what about other drivers? You cannot control their actions, but you can take steps to protect yourself.

Click the image above for a 1-minute CDC podcast on drinking and driving.

Click the image above for a 1-minute CDC podcast on drinking and driving.

Start by learning when you are most vulnerable to encountering impaired drivers. Alcohol is more likely to be a factor in traffic accidents between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., on weekends and on holidays, according to OSHA.

If you are on the road during those peak times, be extra aware of the signs of impaired driving. They include swerving, abrupt stopping, driving with the window down in cold weather, driving with headlights off at night, driving slowly and driving on the wrong side of the road.

If you encounter an impaired driver, increase your following distance, and alert the police.

So those are a few things you can do to act responsibly every time you get in your vehicle. Before we wrap up, I will leave you with one last thing to think about.

You are ultimately responsible for your safety. If you are impaired, do not get behind the wheel. Take a taxi, call a friend or stay where you are. As difficult as it can be, make sure others do the same. After all, one awkward conversation could save multiple lives.

Previous installments in this series
Stay tuned to our blog for more installments in our safe-driving series. And if you missed previous installments, take a few minutes to catch up. We think you’ll find it was time well-spent:

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