Alcohol-related deaths on our nation’s highways continue to be a huge problem. In 2015, 10,265 people died in drunk driving crashes – one every 51 minutes – and 290,000 were injured in drunk driving crashes. It’s obvious drunk driving is still a major problem in this country. It appears the numbers of DUI-related deaths were even greater last year. At press time we weren’t able to get the final numbers from a reliable source.
Alcohol impaired driving can be a major safety hazard even though the driver involved may not be “legally intoxicated.” In all states it’s a crime to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or above. However, the laws and penalties for DUI vary greatly from state to state.
It might be good to take a look at what it takes for a driver to reach the level of .08 percent. These are the factors: how fast a person drinks, their weight, their gender and how much food they have in their stomach. For an average male it takes three drinks, and for an average female, only two drinks will usually be enough.
It should be noted, however, that even before reaching .08 percent, a person’s driving ability can be impacted. The following will give an indication of how alcohol at numerous levels will impair a person’s driving:
• .02 – There will be a decline in visual functions and the ability to perform two tasks at the same time.
• .05 – There will be reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, and reduced responses to emergency driving situations.
• .08 – There will be decreased concentration, short-term memory loss, difficulty controlling speed, reduced information processing (traffic signals and other visuals), and impaired perception.
• .10 – There will be a reduced ability to maintain lane position and to brake appropriately.
• .15 – The driver will have significant difficulty controlling vehicle, paying attention to driving, and processing the things he or she sees and hears.
Alcohol is not the only drug that causes impaired driving. It has been reported that drugs other than alcohol are involved in about 18 percent of motor vehicle driver deaths. Because of the significant and badly needed attention paid to alcohol-related deaths, the problems caused by the other drugs do not always get the attention they receive.
All states should take a proactive stand against drinking and driving. There are many things that can be done to help curb the carnage that is occurring on our nation’s highways. But regardless of laws on the books, it is both dumb and dangerous to drive a vehicle after drinking alcoholic beverages.
Source: Department of Transportation and ALEA
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