Designated drivers (also known as DDs) are invaluable and often the unsung heroes of many a night out. But it can’t hurt to get a refresher on when you absolutely shouldn’t take the wheel. Here are 3 situations where having a designated driver should be mandatory.

Stay safe by avoiding these 3 driving situations 

1. Drunk driving

By now, you should know drunk driving is as dumb as driving without a seatbelt. And thanks to the good people at Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, we’ve got even more sobering statistics to help drive the point home:

  • 1 out of every 3 traffic deaths involves drunk driving
  • Every day in America, 27 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes
  • On average, 2 in 3 people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime

The solution

Don’t do it. Just don’t. Ever. That’s what DDs are for.

2. Drowsy driving

Have you heard that “drowsy driving” is as bad as “drunk driving?” Yep, a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that drowsy driving is a factor in more than 1 in 5 fatal crashes on U.S. roadways each year.

And it’s not just “super-tired-because-I’m-on-a-road-trip-and-I’m-out-of-coffee” drowsy drivers. We’re also talking about those of us who are chronically shortchanging our sleep. In fact, the study found drivers who miss a mere 1 to 2 hours of sleep a day (of the recommended 7 hours) more than double their risk of getting in a crash, compared to drivers who have gotten their Zs. And if you miss 2 to 3 hours of sleep, you quadruple your risk of a crash — the same risk associated with driving over the legal alcohol limit.

The solution

  1. Get enough sleep. You’ll drive better, you’ll work better, you’ll be better.
  2. Plan your road trips carefully. Got a long, boring ride ahead of you? Stock up on energy drinks, triple-shot lattes, or whatever you need to keep you awake. Load up some podcasts or a jamming playlist. Schedule stops every 100 miles or 2 hours or so. And try not to drive at night if you can avoid it.
  3. Get a copilot. Yep, a designated driver is a great solution for drowsy driving too. Have your buddy take the wheel while you grab a quick catnap or simply rest your eyes.
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3. Distracted driving

You’re not texting while driving are you? If so, stop. Right. Now. But even if you’ve got your wireless hooked up, be warned that hands-free isn’t great for your concentration either.

Distracted driving is a huge issue. In fact, it’s right up there with drunk driving — it was the third-highest cause of fatalities on the road in 2015, according to the National Safety Council. Alcohol was first at 31 percent, and distracted driving was only a few percentage points behind it at 26%. (Speeding was the second-highest at 30 percent.)

Need more proof? According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 431,000 people were injured and more than 3,000 were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

The solution

  1. Pull over if you need to use your phone. If something is urgent, or you need directions, or you have to tell your BFF you’re running late, safely pull to the side of the road or a parking lot, relay the info, and then get back on the road.
  2. Make it hard to use your phone. We know, that ding can be so tempting: Who’s texting? Why was I tagged on Facebook? But stashing the phone in the trunk of your car, turning it off (you do know they had off buttons, right?), or even putting it in airplane mode can help you keep your focus on the road. And, hard to believe, but there was a time not that long ago that when you were in a car, you were just out of touch. Shocking, I know. You can catch up when you arrive.
  3. Have someone else drive. Yep, back to that designated driver. Let someone else drive while you update your social media, find directions, or answer work emails.

Want even more incentive? Safe driving could score you a discount. Find out more about our discounts for safe drivers.

Safe and smart | Car safety

about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.