There are many hazards on the roads of New Jersey, from traffic jams to slick streets. However, accidents involving impaired drivers may be particularly deadly. Three basic types of impairment are responsible for thousands of fatal injuries every year.
Statistics provided by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence show that drunk drivers cause approximately a third of the nation’s fatal crashes each year. Legally, a person is impaired if he or she has a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher. Alcohol consumption slows brain function so that information is not processed quickly or accurately. Alcohol also affects coordination and the ability to react.
Illicit drugs, prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and marijuana all produce changes in the brain. These may vary widely by substance and by individual factors. Data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that in one year, 18 percent of the drivers who were killed in car crashes had at least one of these drugs in their system.
While many studies focus on the effects of fatigue on truck drivers, they are far from the only ones who put lives at risk because of sleep deprivation. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 percent of the adult drivers in one survey indicated that they had fallen asleep behind the wheel at least once in the past 30 days. Unlike alcohol or drug impairment, law enforcement does not have an accurate test to identify drowsy drivers. Some estimates claim that this type of impairment is responsible for as many as 6,000 deadly accidents each year.