Drinking alcohol isn't the only thing that should stop you from getting behind the wheel.
When it comes to driving, it's no secret that you shouldn't get behind the wheel if you are drunk. Being under the influence of alcohol is not only illegal, but it can put you at a greater risk of getting into an accident and can even be deadly. But how much is too much when it comes to alcohol impairing your ability to drive? And what else also makes it dangerous to drive?
Here are 5 reasons to hand the keys to someone else:
- Alcohol – This one is a no-brainer, but the fact remains that many people drive while under the influence and it is downright dangerous. In fact, a person was killed every 45 minutes in the U.S. due to a crash involving an alcohol-impaired driver in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Don't use the excuse that you're just "buzzed" so you think you can drive. Being buzzed still affects your decision-making and reflexes and impairs your ability to drive safely. The best thing to do if you're drinking is to let someone else drive.
- Marijuana – Cannabis is legal for medical or recreational use in some states, but that doesn't mean you should drive when you are high. Marijuana can slow your reaction time and affect your judgment, concentration and coordination. This puts you at greater risk of getting into an accident, putting your life and the lives of others, as well as property, at risk. If you're not sure if you're too high to drive safely, just don't do it.
- Medications – There are a number of medications that may make you drowsy or may otherwise impair your ability to drive safely. These include both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Even herbal supplements may affect your driving. It is best to not drive when you first start using a new medication or supplement, or when you change the dose, until you know how it affects your ability to drive.
- Fatigue – It may not seem like that big a deal to drive when you a tired, but drowsy driving is a major problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You may be too tired to drive because you haven't slept enough, have been driving too long or have an untreated sleep disorder. Shift work, some medications and drinking alcohol can also make you tired, affecting your ability to drive safely. Fatigue affects your ability to pay attention, make good decisions or react quickly enough.
- Distractions – Anything that takes your attention away from the act of driving can be dangerous. Texting, eating, putting on makeup, talking to others, fiddling with controls or searching for something you dropped can all be a recipe for disaster when driving. If you are angry or crying, it can also take your focus off of the road. When you are the driver, your number one priority is to drive safely enough to protect yourself and others. That means all of these other distractions should wait until you reach your destination or you have pulled over somewhere safely. If you can't do that, let someone else do the driving.
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Date Last Reviewed: October 18, 2022
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD