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Distracted and Impaired Driving

Revised October 2017 with current title

Revised October 2011 titled "Addressing the Public Safety Dangers Associated with Impaired or Distracted Driving"   

Originally approved January 2004 titled "Legal Sanctions and Rehabilitation for Driving under the Influence", replacing "Alcohol Abuse and Motor Vehicle Safety" (April 2003) and “Legal Sanctions for Drunk Driving" (June 2003)


In recognition of the significant public safety dangers associated with drivers who are impaired by the use of alcohol or drugs, as well as by those who engage in distracted driving1, the American College of Emergency Physicians : 

  • Encourages public education about the dangers of impaired, intoxicated, and distracted driving.
  • Discourages the use of handheld electronic mobile devices while driving motorized vehicles or maneuvering other vehicles.
  • Recognizes that pedestrians may also be distracted by the use of handheld electronic mobile devices.
  • Encourages research to quantify the magnitude and severity of injuries to distracted pedestrians and drivers using electronic mobile devices and encourages research involving prevention of these injuries.
  • Supports measures that enhance the safety of both the offender and the general public and legal sanctions for persons convicted of driving while impaired, intoxicated, or distracted.  
  • Supports innovative technologies that discourage and reduce driver distraction and impairment.  
  • Recognizes that drowsy driving is potentially another form of impaired driving and encourages continued research into its consequences and increasing public awareness of its dangers.  
  • Advocates toxicological screening of drivers by law enforcement officials in crashes involving fatality or serious injury. 
  • Advocates for education efforts regarding the hazards of binge drinking and other substance abuse, as these activities are often associated with impaired driving. 
  • Opposes legislation providing permissive or mandatory reporting of the results of patient toxicological screening which conflict with the appropriate role of physicians in the physician-patient relationship. 
  • Opposes legislation that relieves insurance companies of financial responsibility for otherwise insured losses incurred by beneficiaries who suffer the losses due to the actions of those distracted, intoxicated, or impaired while driving. 

1 Distracted driving is defined in accordance with the definition provided at www.distraction.gov, a web site developed for the U.S. Department of Transportation, which states that"distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in while operating a motor vehicle.  Such activities have the potential to distract the person from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing." Driving includes but is not limited to automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, skateboards and watercraft.

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