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Do’s and Don’ts for Designated Drivers*

Ready for a picnic this Memorial Day? We are, too! But, before you start to party hardy, remember to be safe. Pick a designated driver. And, if you’re it, follow these tips to keep you—and your passengers—safe.

Do it for real

Abstaining from alcohol doesn’t mean having just one. Although the legal level is .08 or below, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that this legal limit doesn’t define a level below which it is safe to drive. Impairment due to alcohol begins at the first sip.

Watch out for over-the-counter

Cold meds and other common medications available over-the-counter can make you loopy. (We know, we don’t have to tell you.) Although these side effects seem minimal, the truth is they can impair your driving to dangerous levels. Prescription meds, such as some antidepressants, can do the same.

The most important thing to know is how you react to medications. Don’t take a new cold or allergy medicine the night you’re the designated driver, and if you’re on prescription medications that can make you sleepy, talk to your doctor about managing this side effect beforehand.

Don’t Cell and Drive

The media’s been all over the dangers of talking and texting while driving this year. But has it sunk in? Probably not—it just seems so easy to tap a few keys on the straightaway.

A study conducted at the University of Utah, though, found that, statistically, driving while using a cell phone is just as dangerous as driving while drunk. So, if you’re the DD, put the key pad away and keep your eyes on the road.

Don’t drive dead tired

The growing perception is that driving while tired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. The group at highest risk for being in a crash due to fatigue, as found by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, is young men (under 30).

So, if you know you didn’t get a full night’s sleep before, you feel like you might fall asleep against your will, and/or you’re overly giddy or depressed (without the alcohol), you shouldn’t be driving. Call a cab, or stay where you are for the night and keep your passengers with you.

Know how insurance works when your friend drives your car

In most states, and unless excluded in your policy, your auto insurance will extend to a friend who drives your car with your permission.

However, that’s not the case with rental vehicles. If you allow a friend to drive a vehicle rented to you, your personal insurance will likely not respond while the friend is driving the rental. You may want to list them as a driver on the rental agreement and purchase the optional insurance coverage through the rental agency. Or, even better, if you’re the one who is renting, be the one to drive.

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