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Five Types of Driving Impairments

February 28, 2022 Car Accidents,Drunk driving

Driver error is responsible for more than 90 percent of traffic accidents. Often it involves some form of driving impairment, which results in the driver failing to demonstrate reasonable care. While there are many driving impairments, the most common are the following five types.

What Are the Five Types of Driving Impairments?Distracted Driving

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nine people die every day from distracted driving. The NHTSA reports that distracted drivers caused 3,142 deaths in 2019. Texting while driving is the most alarming distraction since sending or reading a text can take your eyes and hands off the road for five seconds. If a vehicle is traveling at 55 mph, it can be compared to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.


Even one drink containing alcohol will adversely affect your ability to drive, putting your own life and the lives of others at risk. Alcohol often leads to increased risk-taking, such as recklessness, speeding, failing to wear a seat belt, disobeying traffic signs, etc. Intoxicated drivers can feel a false sense of confidence about being in control but in reality, struggle to maintain a constant speed and trajectory. Reaction times are slower, and their attention and concentration on the road also decrease. As a result, drivers with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of over 0.10 are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than sober drivers.


Whether drugs are prescribed, purchased over-the-counter, or illegal, the physical effects can result in:

  • Erratic or aggressive behavior
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness

When a driver is on drugs, they can potentially suffer from any of these conditions, putting themselves at high risk of causing an accident. Behind alcohol, marijuana is the second most common substance found in the blood of impaired drivers. Several studies have found that drivers under the influence of marijuana were up to two times more likely to be killed or at fault for a fatal collision than sober drivers.

Medical Conditions

Common medical conditions that result in a license suspension or restriction include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia
  • Epilepsy
  • Sleep disorders
  • Vision disorders, such as cataracts or macular degeneration
  • Diabetes

If a condition impacts a driver’s ability to drive safely, the DMV can restrict or take away driving privileges. The reason is that a serious medical condition can impair a person’s driving ability without warning, increasing the risk of a collision.


Driving while fatigued can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Sleep deprivation affects the body in similar ways. The National Sleep Foundation states that when a person is awake for 18 hours straight, they will experience similar effects while driving as if they had a blood-alcohol level (BAC) of .05. After 24 hours of being awake, the effect is similar to driving with a BAC level of .10. Therefore, if a drowsy driver starts to fall asleep while traveling at a high speed, they may not be able to swerve or brake when necessary to avoid an accident.