December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month Published Dec. 7, 2017 By Susan Alexander, 45th Space Wing Violence Prevention Director PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Drunk and drugged driving is a deadly epidemic, yet it still continues across the United States. In addition to the human toll, drunk driving takes a toll on our country. The financial impact is devastating, based on 2010 numbers, the most recent year for which cost data is available, impaired driving crashes cost the United States $44 billion annually, according to the CDC. How big is the problem? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency, approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the U.S. involve drunk drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 or higher. In 2016, there were 10,497 deaths in these preventable crashes. In fact, on average over the 10-year period (2006-2016), more than 10,000 people died every year in drunk-driving crashes. In 2015, nearly 1.1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Drugs other than alcohol, legal and illegal, are involved in about 16 percent of motor vehicle crashes. Marijuana users were about 25 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use, however other factors – such as age and gender may account for the increased crash risk among marijuana users. Consequences of Drunk & Drugged Driving: -Charges range from misdemeanors to felony offenses, and penalties for impaired driving can include driver’s license revocation, fines and jail time. -It’s also extremely expensive. A first-time offense can cost the driver upwards of $10,000 in fines and legal fees. -Arrested, or worse—be involved in a traffic crash that causes serious injury or death. Prevent Drunk & Drugged Driving by making responsible choices, such as: -Hold your friends and family members accountable. -If someone you know has been drinking or using drugs, do not let them drive. Take their keys and help them arrange a sober ride home. -If you see an impaired driver on the road, immediately contact local law enforcement. Your actions could help save someone’s life. Questions pertaining to this article may be directed to the 45th Space Wing Violence Prevention Office at 321-494-3743.