It's 'Don't Drive 3Ds' month

By Jane Harrison | Dec 16, 2013

We are all aware that the Holiday Season is in full gear.  There are lots of events and get-togethers to attend, shopping to do, gifts to mail etc.  Some of us may remember that it is time for the annual Governor’s Highway Safety “Booze It and Lose It “Holiday campaign which runs through Jan. 5, 2014.  This means that our local law enforcement agencies will be doing things like “saturation patrols and check points” to ensure highways are safe this Holiday Season.  We all need to thank them for working extra hard to try to help us have a safe and happy holiday.

As the name “Booze It and Lose It” implies, law enforcement will be targeting people who are driving drunk or impaired.  How many of us know that December is really “Don’t Drive 3Ds Month”?  There will be many ads reminding us that one D is for  “Don’t Drive Drunk”, but do you know what the other two Ds are for?  The other Ds are for “Don’t Drive Drugged” and “Don’t Drive Distracted.”

Hopefully you are all aware that many prescription drugs warn you not to operate machinery (including driving) while taking the drug or at least don’t operate machinery until you know how the drug affects you.  How many of you know that statistics from Emergency Rooms show that the number of accident victims showing impairment from alcohol and marijuana were almost exactly the same -35percent?  Research also shows a 1.0 BAL increases your chance for having an accident 6 times and 6.6 times with a similar level of impairment from marijuana.  This data shows that driving high on marijuana is just as dangerous as driving drunk.

However, the D that has shown the greatest increase in risk is “Distracted Driving”.  A 2009 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said 5474 people were killed and 448,000 were injured by distracted driving.  That is 16 percent of all fatal crashes and 20 percent of all crashes with injuries.  Sixteen percent of all teen fatalities were from distracted driving and the percentage continues to rise as teens especially, but also adults, become more and more “addicted” to constant contact.

There are three types of distracted driving — manual, visual, and mental.  Basically anything that takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, or your mind off the task of driving is considered distracted driving.  So it is not just texting, it is reaching for your soft drink, tuning the radio or even using your “hands free” cell phone call.  Texting and driving is especially dangerous because it involves manual, visual and mental distraction.

The Prevention Services Department at Mountain Projects and all of the prevention coalitions and task forces of Region A hope that everyone will have a safe and happy Holiday Season. We thank all the law enforcement agencies for their extra efforts to keep us safe.  Let’s all do our part as well by being sure to include safe driving in all of our plans.  Don’t drive while doing any of the three Ds so a crash will not “distract” from any holiday festivities.

Jane Harrison is Prevention Specialist for the Prevention Services Department at Mountain Projects. Reach Harrison