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NHTSA creates public awareness campaign for holiday drunk driving

The winter holiday season is a time of celebration and excitement. Many gatherings center on the consumption of food and alcohol, and it is very easy to overindulge in all aspects. Some people believe that they can drive safely after drinking, but that may not be the case.

If you know that your celebrations here in Texas may include alcohol, you may want to make a plan for how to get home safely without driving yourself. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration recently announced a public awareness campaign in the hopes of curtailing intoxicated driving, whether it may be due to consumption of alcohol or drugs. They want to encourage people to use ride shares or stay sober to keep everyone safe.

Campaign details

The public awareness campaign runs from December 13 of this year until January 1 next year. There are actually two different campaigns, one targeting alcohol consumption, "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over," and the other targeting drug usage, "If You Feel Different, You Drive Different – Drive High Get a DUI." The NHTSA hopes that the two-pronged approach will reach as many people as possible and have a positive influence. The NHTSA allotted $8 million for a media campaign that includes ads on TV, radio, social media and more.

Impaired driving isn't just due to alcohol

The "If You Feel Different..." campaign intends to educate people about the potential dangers of driving high, as more and more states legalize marijuana consumption. The NHTSA decided a focused drugged driving initiative was necessary after they conducted a study just a few years ago that found an increase in drivers who tested positive for THC, the psychoactive component found in cannabis. This is the second year that the NHTSA has used this campaign, and the hope is that increased awareness will compound every year.

Some drivers incorrectly assume that they are safe to drive after consuming marijuana, but that is not the case. While many understand the potential risk of consumption of alcohol before driving, the NHTSA wants to stress to motorists that the same consideration applies to other substances, including marijuana. Even with legalization in many states, it is still illegal to drive while high.

The campaigns work

Fortunately, the NHTSA reports that their efforts are working to stop impaired driving. From 2017 to 2018, there was a drop in alcohol-related car crash fatalities of 3.6%. That means that 29% of fatalities due to car accidents in 2018 involved alcohol. Though that percentage sounds high, it is the lowest since 1982.

Even with the increased efforts of the NHTSA, drunk driving accidents may still happen over the holidays. If you or someone you care about is hurt in a crash with a drunk driver, you deserve to know that there are ways to utilize the justice system to hold those responsible accountable. There is never a good time for a car crash, but hopefully, these public efforts will reduce the chances of it happening over an otherwise festive time of year.

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