Distracted driving and driving under the influence (DUI) are 2 of the biggest problems on New Hampshire roadways. If you’re just getting your license, you need to be especially careful to avoid these behaviors. Under graduated license laws, you could face harsher penalties.
Laws aside, the worst consequences of drunk and distracted driving involve taking someone’s life or changing it forever with a serious injury. Staying sober and focused on the road can save lives – including your own.
Distracted Driving Statistics
In 2018, distracted driving killed a total of 2,841 people, including 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians, and 77 bicyclists. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 9 people are killed by distracted driving every day. Additionally, approximately 1,000 traffic accidents each day involve a distracted driver.
Both the CDC and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) define distracted driving as any activity that diverts attention from driving. According to the CDC, there are 3 main types of distracted driving:
- Visual (taking your eyes off the road)
- Manual (taking your hands off the wheel)
- Cognitive (taking your mind off of driving)
Most safety organizations highlight texting and driving as the worst distracted driving behavior because it involves all 3 types of distracted driving. It takes about 5 seconds to read or send a text message, which at 50 mph, means traveling the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed and without paying any attention to your surroundings.
Using a cell phone or hand-held electronic device while driving is illegal in New Hampshire, along with 21 other states in the country. Consequences are especially severe for drivers under 18, who may not use their cell phones while driving – even with hands-free assistance.
Anytime you are behind the wheel, give 100% of your attention to the task at hand.
Drunk Driving Statistics
Every 50 minutes, someone loses their life to drunk driving. In 2018, drunk driving crashes killed 10,511 people. Drunk driving is a particularly serious problem for teens. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) estimates that teen alcohol use kills 4,300 people each year.
Although driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood is illegal in all 50 states, any amount of alcohol can impair your driving. Most states also have zero tolerance policies for drivers under 21, which means having any kind of BAC is illegal for this demographic.
In New Hampshire, driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence of drugs can cause your license to be revoked for anywhere from 90 days to 2 years. You can also face thousands of dollars in fines – and time in jail. These consequences are more serious for drivers with graduated licenses.
If your behavior seriously injured or kills someone, you can also be charged with negligent homicide and other serious criminal offenses. These charges sometimes carry prison time and other life-altering repercussions.
Remember, driving under the influence doesn’t always mean alcohol. Drugs like marijuana can also affect your driving, and marijuana users are about 25% more likely to be in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use. Using narcotics, including prescription medications, is also extremely dangerous when you are behind the wheel.
Drive Focused, Drive Sober
Driving without distractions and impairments is one of the most important parts of safe driving. It can also keep you – and everyone around you – alive. While you cannot control the behavior of others, wearing your seat belt is your best defense against impaired drivers.
You can also contact local law enforcement if you see an impaired driver on the road.
If you get into a drunk driving accident that is not your fault, Gottesman & Hollis, P.A. can also help you and your family recover.
Whenever you need us, we are available at (603) 506-4600 and online.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of our Teen Driving Series and learned the importance of driving sober and staying focused behind the wheel – tune in next time for our final installment: “Interactive Resources to Help Prepare Teens.”