We all know about the dangers of drunk driving, and about the draconian penalties imposed on drivers who test above a certain level for the presence of alcohol in their blood. The level considered “impaired” has dropped considerably over the years and may drop again to a level that catches even relatively small amounts of alcohol. No right-thinking person argues against the need for strict rules.

But it’s interesting to note how slow to respond our society is to other forms of impairment, often just as dangerous. It has become common for the use of cell phones while driving to carry a relatively small penalty, although so-called “hands free” devices are acceptable despite proving to be almost as distracting.

A recent article in the New York Times — see it HERE — discusses the possible effects from the wide-spread use of sleeping pills such as Ambien on one’s ability to drive safely. In some, the lingering effect of the sleeping pill taken the night before are as pronounced as moderate alcohol consumption.

Interestingly, while searching for an image to illustrate this article, I googled “driving impaired,” which seemed like a blanket term. Hundreds of images were found, virtually all of them dealing only with alcohol impairment. Society seems to be in, well, denial about the dangers of other sorts of impairment.

– Craig Whalley