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AAA Arizona: Be prepared; don’t drive impaired

Michelle Donati. (Haute Photography)

Highway fatalities are up, and so are concerns about impaired driving. Crashes involving alcohol are on the rise, as is the number of drivers with other substances in their system. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) recent National Roadside Survey found 22 percent of weekend drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

Americans are driving more miles than ever before, and with more people on the road, it’s imperative that drivers take steps to stay off the road if they are impaired. AAA offers these tips to keep roads safer for drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

For drivers: Plan ahead so it’s easy to make the right choice if you’re impaired

  • Choose a designated driver before you go out. Make sure they agree to stay alcohol- and drug-free.
  • Download a ridesharing app or program your local taxi’s number into your phone. That way, you can get a safe ride if you need one with the touch of a button.
  • Stay with a friend or book a nearby hotel room if you are impaired.
  • Visit RoadwiseRX.com, a tool you can use to see how medications affect safe driving.
  • Take advantage of AAA’s Tipsy Tow, a service that provides a free tow and ride home when Arizona experiences the highest volume of DUI arrest and alcohol-related crashes.

For hosts: Plan parties with safety in mind to minimize liability

  • Never serve minors.
  • Offer non-alcoholic drink options and serve plenty of food.
  • Stop serving alcohol well before the party ends.
  • Consider using a professional bartender. They can recognize signs of impairment and limit alcohol.
  • Remind guests to plan ahead and designate a sober driver.
  • Don’t be afraid to take car keys away from guests who are too impaired to drive.
  • Help arrange alternate transportation or accommodations for guests who need it.

For everyone: Take steps to protect yourself

  • Always wear your seatbelt. Nearly half of all vehicle occupants killed in 2015 were not wearing seat belts, according to NHTSA.
  • If you spot someone who appears to be an impaired driver when you are on the road, keep a safe distance and call 911 if it is safe to do so. Do not attempt to stop the vehicle yourself.
  • Talk to friends and family about the dangers of impaired driving.

More than 24,500 DUI arrests were made in Arizona in 2015, according to the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. AAA estimates that a first-time DUI conviction can cost a motorist more than $10,000 in fines, penalties, legal fees and increased insurance costs.

As the leader in driver safety, AAA challenges drivers to pledge to drive drug- and alcohol-free. Visit duijusticelink.aaa.com to sign the pledge today.

– Michelle Donati is the communications manager at AAA Arizona. Contact her at michelle.donati@arizona.aaa.com.

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