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The Camasonian

Dangerous Driving Strikes CHS Students

Courtesy of GettysImages

Ever since childhood, adults have warned students about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse. Now, with teenagers, the focus has centered on safe driving practices and avoiding driving under the influence. Camas High School (CHS) health classes teach about drug impairment on the brain and one’s perception and how attempting to drive while impaired is a risk to both oneself and everyone else on the road. With recent winter weather, remembering the dangers of impaired driving and how to stay safe on the road is crucial for students. 

Cars in the CHS parking lot, courtesy of CHS Yearbook

As of 2022, it is estimated that there were over a total of 75,000 car accidents in the state of Washington, with as many as 3,000 suspected injuries and up to 700 fatalities. Of those fatalities, over half were related to impaired driving. This has been an upward trend over the years, especially with increased phone usage in the car and added distractions faced in the modern world.

Taking the time to understand what happens to the brain while driving impaired is necessary for knowing how to stay safe. Charlotte Waters, a CHS teacher of both chemistry and a semester-long course, Addiction and the Brain, sheds light on the effects of alcohol on the human body.  

“Alcohol is a depressant, which means it’s going to depress your central nervous system. So, in a general term, your neurons aren’t firing as well or as fast as they should,” Waters said. “It starts slowing everything down. It slows your breathing and heart rate, and then that starts to impair how your brain functions.”

When the brain is impaired, abilities like vision, motor control and reaction time are also impaired, which are all necessary for driving safely and attentively.

Many students worry about driving to and from school, advising about the necessary precautions to preserve safety on the road. 

CHS students demonstrate unsafe parking, courtesy of CHS Yearbook

“If you’re in a dangerous situation, don’t feel like you need to go through with it,” junior Alex McNutt said. 

This applies to general driving safety and awareness while on the road. For example, if a student notices someone visibly under the influence who plans to drive themself or other passengers, taking all measures necessary to ensure they stay away from the wheel takes top priority. It is also crucial to never, under any circumstances, get in the car with someone under the influence or planning to drink while driving.

However, many find it hard to recognize what impaired driving looks like, as there are many poor drivers on the road.

“When I see someone driving unsafe, I don’t instantly assume they’re impaired,” junior Abbie Pratt said.

Most people avoid jumping to these conclusions, but one can never be sure. The bigger picture is that no one can be certain that other drivers will make safe decisions. There may always be one person who is a risk to others. With this in mind, students must remember driving safety precautions.

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Elisabeth Williams, Staff Writer

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