Drunk Driving Facts

Drunk driving or driving under influence is the prime cause of motor vehicle crash cases which often leads to serious injuries and death. Some quick facts and statistics on drunk driving are covered in the following article.
OpinionFront Staff
Addiction to alcohol has become a major social problem. Driving under influence (DUI) of alcohol has become one of the common feature and cause of accidents today. As per studies carried out by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2006, alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents under influence of alcohol kills someone every 31 minutes and injures someone every two minutes in U.S. alone. Drunk driving ruins lives and this article will cover some facts that will help open your eyes to the ill-effects of driving under influence.
  • Every year, in the U.S., about 600,000 and 10 percent - of all motor vehicle crashes recorded by police department are due to consumption of alcohol.
  • Nearly 40% Americans are involved in an alcohol-related motor vehicle crash in their lifetime.
  • It has been found that drivers with blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher were involved in about 10, 839 fatalities due to accidents in 2009.
  • On an average, at least one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 48 minutes in the year 2009.
  • In U.S., each year, about 748,000 people suffer injuries in alcohol-related traffic crashes, an average of one person injured every minute. About 40,000 of these are severely affected.
  • Around 75% of fatal crashes that occur between midnight and 3 a.m. involve alcohol, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • More than half of the 1,300 child passengers aged 14 and younger died in alcohol-related crashes during 2009. About 14% of these children were riding with a drunk driver who had a BAC level of about .08 or higher. The other 15% were pedestrians or pedalcyclists who were crushed by drunk drivers.
  • In 2005, nearly 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics (Department of Justice 2005). That's less than one percent of the 159 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year (Quinlan et al. 2005).
  • Each year, crashes related to alcohol ingestion in the United States cost more than $80 billion.
  • It has been found by the Centers for Disease Control, that an average drunk driver may have driven on the road 80 times before he is arrested.
  • Peck et al. 1995, and Beck et al. 1999 have found that about 50 to 75% convicted drunk drives will continue to drive, even with a suspended license.
  • About 6000 people die each year, due to crashes involving teen drunk drivers.
Groups at Risk
  • The percentage of male drivers involved in serious vehicle crashes is almost double than their female counterparts who have been recorded at a BAC of 0.08% or greater. It is against the law to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher in most countries.
  • At all BAC levels youths are more vulnerable to accidents compared with adult ones.
  • Young men under the legal drinking age (18 to 20) are found driving while impaired due to ingestion of alcohol more frequently than any other age group.
  • Studies have shown that heavier drinkers usually prefer to drink at bars and other person's homes, and at multiple locations requiring shorter distances to cover after consumption. Young drivers have been found to prefer drinking at private parties, while older, more educated drivers prefer bars and taverns.
  • Beer is the drink of choice in most cases of heavy drinking, binge drinking, drunk driving and underage drinking.
Safety Belts and Alcohol
Approximately 12.8 percent of fatally injured intoxicated drivers used safety belts as compared to 33 percent of sober drivers kill in crashes. The percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers using safety belts involved in serious crashes is significantly lower than sober drivers.
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
Measurement of concentration of alcohol in blood provides a common, standard platform to measure and compare the levels of intoxication. Alcohol Regulation Laws differ in their limits from one state to another. While in United States, 0.10% level is considered the legal limit for safe driving for common carriers and 0.04% BAC is considered for aviators; countries like Russia, Norway, Poland, Sweden permits the level of 20 mg/deciliter, while countries like Australia, Argentina permits 0.05% level of BAC. In India the legally permissible limit is 40 mg/deciliter, while countries like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Romania, and Czech Republic have completely banned this.
The effect of alcohol absorption is gradual and it depends upon the rate at which one becomes drunk. As a person drinks faster than the alcohol can be eliminated, more drug accumulates in the body, which results in higher and increased levels of alcohol in the blood.
Preventive Measures
Effective measures to prevent injuries and deaths from impaired driving include:
  • Strict enforcement of existing BAC laws, minimum legal drinking age laws, and zero tolerance laws for drivers younger than 21 years old.
  • Implementing compulsory blood alcohol testing when traffic crashes result in injury (National Committee on Injury Prevention and Control 1989).
  • Immediate suspension of the driver's license for people who drive while intoxicated.
  • Introduction of sobriety checkpoints.
  • Introduction of health promotion efforts which can employ an ecological framework to power economic, organizational, policy, and community action.
As you can see, driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) causes grievous and life-threatening injuries to all who are involved in a crash. If you cannot control your drinking, avoid driving. Those who think they need to drink in a party should ask a sober friend or family member to drive them home. Life is precious. It is in our hands to curb this menace. Hope these facts and statistics help you avoid driving under influence.
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