Many of us want to have healthier habits in general, but stress, anxiety, and mood disorders like depression sometimes get in the way. As our mental health suffers, so does our physical health, and these issues can have negative effects on our daily lives, from work to our relationships to even staying safe behind the wheel of a car. While stress doesn’t necessarily make you a distracted driver, you may find yourself abusing substances in order to cope, and that can have a huge impact on your safety.
You may feel in control when you’re under the influence of substances, but in most cases, we don’t grasp just how incapacitated we are until it’s too late. Getting behind the wheel of a car when you’re under the influence of a substance is dangerous not just for you, but for anyone else who happens to be on the road at the same time. That’s why those with a history of dangerous driving, whether due to intoxication or pure recklessness, are charged more in premiums from auto insurance providers. If you’re convicted of reckless driving, you may have trouble getting insurance at all, making it difficult for you to legally drive even when you’re doing so responsibly. Of course, not being able to use your car can impact several other areas of your life, from getting to work on time to picking up the kids from school to running to the grocery store.
For both health and financial reasons, it’s important to know the risks of being impaired when you’re driving.
Know your limits
Substances affect everyone in different ways. One person may be able to have a couple of drinks and feel perfectly fine, while someone else may be overwhelmed or buzzed after one. It depends on your body weight, what medications you may be taking, what you’ve had to eat that day, and several other factors, so it’s impossible to say that a substance won’t affect you just because it doesn’t seem to affect someone else. The best choice of action if you choose to drink is to avoid driving at all, asking someone to be your designated driver, or calling a rideshare service.
Know the effects
The most common substances used by impaired drivers include marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol. All of these have very different effects on the brain. Marijuana can slow down reaction time, while cocaine can lead to erratic driving. Alcohol can impair vision and judgment, especially at night or in inclement weather. It’s not enough to be a cautious driver when you’re under the influence; you also have to think about things outside of your control. You may feel like you can get behind the wheel after a few drinks, but what happens when it starts to snow or when another driver slams on his brakes in front of you? There will always be other factors at play when you’re driving, so it’s best not to risk it.
Out of all the things to consider when it comes to driving under the influence, it’s important to remember that it’s illegal. Not only does it have the potential to harm you or someone else, but you could find yourself in a lot of trouble and have to pay sky-high insurance rates or legal fines. You may even spend time in jail, especially if another car is involved or someone is injured.
Know your car’s safety
As you work to become a more responsible driver, it’s also important to keep your car in good working condition to help you stay safe on the road. You should schedule routine maintenance checks, or regularly inspect the car yourself. Check the oil/fluids, tires, and other important components of the car, and fix or replace anything that is no longer in good condition. One essential that can be overlooked is the brake pads, which allow you to stop your car safely. They can wear down over time, so make sure you get them replaced. You can save money by replacing them yourself, so you don’t have to pay a mechanic. When purchasing brake pads, be sure they’re compatible with your vehicle.
Remember that you have the power to make informed, healthy decisions in regards to your habits and what type of driver you choose to be, and you can also affect the lives of others by talking to friends and family about the dangers of driving while impaired. Offer to order a Lyft ride for someone you suspect may be over the limit, or help them find a way to get home safely. Additionally, you can be a more responsible driver by performing a routine inspection and maintenance on your car, so that you and your car are as safe as possible on the road.