Dec. 'Drinking, Drugged Driving Awareness Month'

By KTVZ.COM news sources
POSTED: 7:49 PM PST December 2, 2013    UPDATED: 7:59 PM PST December 2, 2013 
SALEM, Ore. -

Governor John Kitzhaber has proclaimed December as “3D Month” in recognition of “Drinking and Drugged Driving Awareness Month,” a statewide effort aimed at reducing impaired driving during the holidays and into the new year.

While most drivers know that even one drink before getting behind the wheel can affect performance, many are unaware that prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines can also impair driving.

“Drunk driving has traditionally received most of the attention but we’re seeing more and more instances of impaired driving caused by illegal drugs as well as prescription and over the counter medications,” said Impaired Driving Program Manager Dan Estes with the Oregon Department of Transportation. “Just because something is prescribed by a doctor or purchased legally like cold medicine doesn’t mean that it can’t cause a serious impairment or won’t earn someone a DUI arrest if they choose to drive impaired. It’s not about the substance; it’s really about the impairment.”

 

Key messages, running both statewide and around the country, encourage motorists to “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” Another one is “Buzzed driving is drunk driving,” which emphasizes the fact that you don’t have to be legally drunk – or even drinking alcohol – to be impaired.

 

Estes encourages drivers to talk with their doctors or pharmacists about medicines to find out if they can cause drowsiness or other impairments. To make a real impact on safety this holiday season, Estes encourages personal responsibility.

 

“When it comes right down to it, the choice to drive impaired is up to the individual,” he said. “When a person makes the right choice in the very beginning, before they ever get behind the wheel, that’s the most effective way to prevent impaired driving, before it ever starts.”

Throughout December, extra law enforcement will be working around the clock to encourage safe driving practices. ODOT’s partners in the effort include Oregon State Police, Oregon State Sheriff’s Association, and Oregon Association Chiefs of Police, and other safety advocates.

 

In 2012 in Oregon, 37 percent of crashes in which someone died involved an impaired driver. Over the past decade in the state, more than 2,000 individuals were killed and over 10,000 people were injured by drinking and drugged drivers. The financial cost of those losses is more than $9 billion, but that’s minimal compared to the pain of losing a loved one. If you are planning to host or attend a holiday get-together this season, here are a few safety tips:

 

For tips on helping young people avoid dangerous situations involving drugs, drinking and driving, or to learn about other programs aimed at reducing impaired driving, visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/Impaired. Everyone, every day is encouraged to report impaired drivers to 9-1-1 or Oregon State Police at 1-800-24DRUNK (800-243-7865).

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Total Oregon fatal crashes involving alcohol and/or drugs during the month of December, 2003 – 2012

 

Year

Intoxicant-Involved Crashes

Intoxicant-Involved Deaths

2003

12

15

2004

14

18

2005

7

7

2006

15

20

2007

18

18

2008

18

19

2009

13

14

2010

9

9

2011

10

10

2012

10

10