Most Massachusetts drivers aim to be as careful as possible to stay safe. However, nearly anyone can make the mistake of getting behind the wheel of their vehicle while impaired. This is what impaired driving means and how it poses risks to everyone on the road.
Understanding impaired driving
Everyone knows what drunk driving is, but impaired driving is sometimes misunderstood. It occurs when a person gets behind the wheel while buzzed after drinking or after consuming illicit drugs or those that are legal to treat medical conditions. Even some prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications can contain small levels of alcohol or other ingredients that can make a person drowsy or dizzy, making it unsafe for them to drive.
Dangers of impaired driving
Impaired driving presents serious risks to drivers, passengers, pedestrians and others on or around the road. Although the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08%, a person can become impaired even with a BAC of half that amount or even lower depending on their age, body composition and other factors.
Driving while impaired decreases a person’s ability to safely control a vehicle. Their reflexes, judgment, coordination and reaction time are all compromised. A driver may not be able to even recognize a dangerous situation until it’s too late; they might veer into another lane, increase their speed without realizing it or even drift off behind the wheel and crash. Any of these scenarios can lead to severe, catastrophic injuries or even death if an accident occurs.
In most cases, impaired driving occurs when alcohol or drugs are involved. However, even driving while fatigued is comparable due to the effects it has on a driver. The best way to avoid an accident if you’re impaired by substances or overly drowsy is to leave your vehicle and get a ride home from someone you trust.