Impaired driving is generally defined as operating a vehicle after alcohol or drug use. Driving a motor vehicle while impaired greatly increases the risk of crashes, injuries, and death. It is important to educate employees and set expectations for responsible driving.
Drivers in most states are considered to be alcohol-impaired when their blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) are .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher (.05 g/dl in Utah). For the average male, this means three or four drinks. For the average female, this means two or three drinks. Every day in the U.S., 29 people die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. These crashes account for 28% of all traffic-related deaths.
Drug use (legal and illicit) contributes to 16% of motor vehicle crashes. The prevalence of marijuana use is constantly increasing, and marijuana users are 25% more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers who are not using marijuana. This is because marijuana can slow reaction time, impair time and distance judgment, and decrease coordination. Even prescription drugs present a hazard. Some studies report that opioids can cause drowsiness and impair thinking and judgment, while others have found that being under the influence of opioids while driving can double your risk of having a crash.
Keep in mind that there are many types of motor vehicles and equipment that may be operated in the workplace:
- Personal vehicles
- Company trucks
- Company vans
- Commercial fleets
- Delivery vehicles
- Construction equipment
- Utility vehicles
Regardless of what equipment is being operated, it is important to enforce a zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol impairment in the workplace. This asserts that an employee may be terminated if they are found to have used drugs or alcohol during work, or even before, if the drugs or alcohol are still in their system. The safety of all your employees is dependent on it.
Making job offers contingent on successful passing of background checks and drug testing is one method to screen potential employees. Defensive driving courses are another way to promote safe driving in the workplace.
CDC – Impaired Driving Factsheet
National Institute on Drug Abuse – Drugged Driving