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Drunk Driving: How Alcohol Kills
Drunk driving is also known as alcohol-impaired driving. It refers to a situation when people with blood alcohol concentration (bac levels) beyond the legal limit operate a motor vehicle. In the United States, driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher is considered drunk driving.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol is extremely dangerous. There have been severe incidences of accidents all over the world involving alcohol misuse. The effects of alcohol can distort a person’s driving skills in several ways leading to fatal crashes and in some cases, deaths.
In this article, we will discuss why it’s dangerous when you drink and drive. By the end of this article, we hope you become more careful when consuming alcohol.
Alcohol Reduces Focus
A high level of alcohol in the blood depresses the communication pathways of one’s senses. It is for this reason that drunk drivers have a delayed response to traffic signals which is clearly noticeable.
One way to tell a drunk driver is that they often drive on the wrong side of the lane or on the center line.
Alcohol Can Cause Blurry Vision
Clear eyesight is a necessity for safe driving. It is impossible to drive carefully when one cannot see ahead.
Drinking alcohol can cause your vision to become blurry and your analysis of distance estimation can get affected.
Alcohol Reduces Coordination
Alcohol depresses brain activity by giving it a relaxing feeling. Unfortunately, this is not the kind of feeling a driver should have when driving.
Driving requires quick coordination of the eyes, hand and foot. Under the influence of alcohol, it is difficult for a driver to exhibit such coordination.
Slow Reaction Time
Slow reaction time is related to reduced coordination. Alcohol slows brain activity and consequently, one’s reaction to the surroundings. A slow reaction time hinders a driver from making the right judgment call towards certain events.
For instance, in case a vehicle makes a sudden stop, a quick judgment call would be to brake. However, under the influence of alcohol, a driver will react slowly and cause a car crash.
Signs of a Drunk Driving
There are several evident signs that show when a person is driving under the influence of alcohol. Some of the most common signs include:
- Unpredictable braking action
- Making unusual wide turns
- Dangerous and unnecessary swerving
- Driving on the wrong lane
- Stopping without cause
- Very slow driving
- Delayed response to traffic signals
- Making sudden turns
Drunk Driving in the United States
Drunk driving is a huge problem in the United States. One reason is because of the high rates of binge drinking among adults and young adults.
- According to statistics, an estimated one in six adults binge drink four times a month. This is equivalent to 17 billion binge drinks in a year for one person.
- Approximately $242 billion of expense in 2010 was a result of vehicle accidents. 18 percent or $44 billion of that expense was attributed to crashes due to driving while intoxicated.
- 9,967 deaths or 31 percent of overall driving incidents in 2014 were a result of driving under influence of alcohol
- There were 10,874 reported alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2017 which was 29 percent of the total traffic incidents per year.
- In 2017, an estimated 1 drunk driving accident happened every 48 minutes. In the same year, 19 percent of the victims of drunk driving are ages 14 and younger and individuals ages 21 to 24 years have the highest percentage (27%) of alcohol-impaired driving.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 68 percent of the total drunk driving incidence happened to drivers with an alcohol level of 0.15 grams per decilitre of blood or higher.
- Statistics on the types of motor vehicles used in drunk driving show that motorcycles were involved in 27% of the accidents with passenger cars, light trucks and large trucks accounting for 21%, 20% and 3% respectively.
- Drunk driving incidents are more likely to occur at night.
Consequences of Drunk Driving
If you are caught drunk driving by law enforcement authorities, there are legal consequences that you may face including:
A driver who exceeds 0.08 grams of alcohol per decilitre of blood, then the driver’s license gets suspended. The suspension period is different for every state. The minimum duration for first-time offenders is 30 days.
Most states have a jail time of one day or a week for first-time offenders. Some states such as Texas have a specific jail time.
The average fine for drunk driving is $500. However, some states charge additional fees for license reinstatement and court fees.
Preventive Measures for Drunk Driving
Preventing drunk driving is important because the consequences entail physical injuries, damage to properties and death. Some of the common preventive measures to avoid the dangers of drunk driving are:
Hiring or Choosing a Designated Driver
Sometimes you cannot avoid drinking especially when it comes to social events or places where there is a supply of liquor. In such instances, it is better to choose or hire a non-drinking driver for service.
Asking for a Ride
If you do not have the budget for a designated driver, ask for a lift. The only caution to take is to ensure that you know who you’re riding with. Alternatively, you could ask a friend to get a cab for you.
Ignition Interlock Devices
This ignition interlock device (IID) is similar to a tube or breathalyzer. It is usually attached to the ignition system of the vehicle. The IID inhibits the car from starting unless the driver blows into the tube and it must not detect a high level of alcohol.
The driver needs to blow into the IID at random intervals while driving. This ensures that the driver is not driving under the influence at any one time.
If at any time, the IID detects high alcohol levels in the breath it records the time of incidence rather than shutting off the engine. This record can be used as evidence in court.
Treatment for Alcohol Abuse
If you are planning to drive, it’s best to reduce your alcohol intake or skip alcohol altogether. Drunk driving can result in serious consequences that will not only affect you, but also other people on the road.
If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, reach out to a professional alcohol rehab. You can recover from alcohol abuse and start a new life of sobriety. There are comprehensive treatment plans for alcohol abuse that can help you on your journey to recovery.