Even though there have been numerous campaigns across television, news outlets and social media aimed at reducing drunk driving, drinking and driving statistics show that we still have a long way to go in making our roads safer. If you’re wondering whether drunk driving is still a problem today, the numbers show that this illicit behavior continues to inflict enormous damage on the lives of victims, their families, and the perpetrators themselves.
What Constitutes ‘Drunk’ Driving?
Law enforcement officers use a breathalyzer or blood test to determine a driver’s blood-alcohol level, which is expressed as a percentage. In most states, the legal limit for driving with alcohol in your system is a 0.08% blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). For most people, consuming two beers is equal to a 0.02% BAC. At this point, a driver will have trouble multitasking. After three beers, BAC is raised to 0.05% and causes coordination problems and difficulty steering. After four beers, BAC is usually around 0.08%. At this point, it is illegal to drive because an individual will have difficulty controlling speed and processing information about what he or she is seeing on the road (such as red lights, traffic congestion or a pedestrian crossing the street). After consuming five or more beers, BAC continues to rise and causes profoundly slowed reaction times, difficulty staying in a lane, difficulty braking (moving a foot from the gas pedal to brake pedal) and serious concentration problems.
How Many Accidents Does Drunk Driving Cause Each Year?
Approximately one-third of all traffic-related deaths are caused by a driver who is under the influence of alcohol. In 2014 alone, 9,967 people were killed by intoxicated drivers on American roads. Approximately 28 people die in alcohol-related road accidents every single day. Many of these victims are children. In 2014, 209 children died due to drunk driving and 116 of them were in a vehicle with a drunk driver. In 2010, men were responsible for 81% of drunk driving episodes. Young men between the ages of 21 and 34 are significantly more likely to drink and drive than women or men in other age groups. Individuals who binge drink by consuming more than five drinks on one occasion account for 85% of drunk driving episodes.
How Much Does Drunk Driving Cost Us?
In addition to the devastating loss of life, drunk driving causes serious financial problems due to property damage, court costs, loss of income due to injuries and death, and more. Every year, alcohol-related crashes cost taxpayers more than $44 billion. In an effort to stop the needless loss of life and exorbitant financial costs of drunk driving, police departments around the country organize regular sobriety checkpoints. Each year, between 1,500 and 3,000 lives are saved thanks to sobriety checkpoints. Drunk driving affects everyone on the road, everyone in the driver’s life and everyone who knows a victim of a drunk driving accident. We must all work together to put an end to alcoholism and this avoidable and devastating problem of drunk driving. Sources Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Impaired Driving: Get the Facts. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Drinking and Driving. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/drinkinganddriving/ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2017). Drunk Driving. https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving