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Driving Challenges

Written by David Zecua, a CSU Channel Islands Service Learning student.

How do you feel when you drive? Challenges on the road such as slow vehicles, heavy traffic, or bad weather can make you feel nervous when driving. Having a passenger or two or listening to loud music can be distracting as well. Imagine how much harder those challenges can be when you get behind the wheel impaired while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Some common challenges while driving a car include:

  • Remaining centered in your lane. This can be particularly challenging in bad weather and at higher speeds.
  • Unexpected obstacles such as a slow or stopped vehicle. These objects can appear suddenly which requires good judgement and alertness.
  • Anxiety when you're in heavy traffic, especially if you're a newer driver. Worrying that you may get hit or get pulled over can cause anxiety.
  • Being aware of your blind spots. Blind spots can be hard to see when you're focusing on the road, and missing objects in your blind spots can lead to a collision.

Each of these challenges are difficult and stressful to deal with when you're sober, let alone impaired. Getting behind the wheel after you've been drinking, taking drugs (either legal or illegal), or even taken an over-the-counter medication that makes you sleepy can inhibit your alertness and reaction time which increases the chances of a collision. 

Your judgement and reaction times are essential to have when behind the wheel in case unexpected obstacles get in your way. Alcohol and other substances also affect your coordination, which is essential for tasks such as staying centered in your lane and not swerving. Driving impaired puts you and other around you at grave risk, not only legally but also physically and emotionally.

The next time you drink alcohol or use substances that impair your driving, reflect on the challenges you may face before you decide to get behind the wheel. These challenges can become much harder to deal with when driving impaired, and even “just a little bit" of drugs or alcohol in your system can put you and others on the road at risk. Make a plan before you go out to make sure you get home safely.

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