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What is “Impaired” Driving?

blurred lights, impaired vision while driving

Impaired Driving Means More Than You Think

When the average person hears the term “impaired driving,“ they probably think of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While this is undoubtedly an aspect of it, there are many other ways in which a driver may be impaired behind the wheel.

Impairment means “the state or fact of being impaired.” In considering the definition of impaired, meaning weakened or damaged (especially a human faculty of function), you can see how it may be applied in several instances with driving. It's important to note that many examples of driving impairments can generally have the same effect on a driver. By examining these more closely, motorists can better understand their inherent dangers.

Driving Under the Influence

Drunk or drugged driving is often considered interchangeable with impaired driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also uses this term specifically regarding drug or alcohol impairment when reporting data. According to their most recent Texas report, about 13,592 people were killed in drunk driving-related crashes from 2009 to 2018. Texas also has a much higher death rate by age per 100,000 people considering this definition of impairment.

When looking at how drugs or alcohol affect a driver's ability to safely operate their vehicle, the most common inhibitions include:

  • Reduced concentration
  • Slower reaction times
  • Blurred vision
  • Less muscle control

Driver Fatigue

A commonly overlooked impairment is tiredness or driver fatigue; however, this can significantly affect a driver's ability to operate their vehicle as usual. When a driver is tired, they may not think as clearly or have full motor function - there's also an increased risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.

Furthermore, these effects are increasingly similar to drunk driving, depending on how long you've been awake. One study found that being awake for 20 hours is similar to having a BAC of 0.08% when behind the wheel (the legal limit).

Distracted Driving

As the years pass, people have become much more aware of how distractions behind the wheel can impact their driving ability. Whether it’s using a cellular device, having a pet in the car, or looking for something in the glove compartment/on the floor, even the simplest of actions can quickly become a reason for a crash.

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that upwards of 1.6 million crashes can be attributed to distracted driving every year, accounting for over one-fourth of total crashes. However, this often goes overlooked as motorists aren’t fully aware of what all constitutes distracted driving.

Learn More: Are You a Distracted Driver? What You Need to Know

But how does becoming distracted affect your driving ability? Whenever your mind and eyes are taken off the road, even for five seconds, it can reduce coordination and reaction times. Additionally, teen drivers who use their phones while driving report higher rates of engaging in other risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence or not wearing a seatbelt.

Car Accident Attorneys in Waco and Austin

Impaired driving affects millions of people every year. When a crash results from any of the above actions, it can cause serious injury and devastate an entire family. From extensive medical bills to having to take time off work, the cost of these crashes can leave lasting effects.

As these crashes are preventable (and many of the actions illegal), injured individuals should know that they can take legal action against the negligent driver who caused them harm. Our Texas car accident attorneys are here to help you through this process from start to finish. Schedule a free, initial consultation today by calling (254) 938-6885 or filling out this short form.