The number of people driving under the influence has declined since tougher drunk driving laws were first implemented. These laws have helped drunk driving fatalities to fall by a third in the last three decades.
Drunk driving crashes claim more than 10,000 lives per year. Every day in the United States almost 29 people die in vehicle crashes where the driver was alcohol impaired. That equals one person every 50 minutes dying because of a drunk driver.
Alcohol and drugs both impair thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination, all of which are required to safely operate a vehicle. As the percent of alcohol in person’s system increases, so do the negative impacts. Alcohol is measured by the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood. When the BAC reaches .08 g/dl the risks increase exponentially, which is why it’s illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher in all 50 states.
A BAC of 0.08 has been recognized to signify reduced muscle coordination, lack of judgment, lack of reasoning, reduced ability to concentrate, reduced ability to process information.
Drinking slows reaction time, it takes longer for the brain to process a situation, and respond. Drinking may affect motor skills, including eye, hand and foot coordination, which may affect the ability to avoid or perceive a dangerous situation.
Over two-thirds of wrong-way drivers are under the influence. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) states that alcohol ignition interlock devices may help to reduce drunk driving. MADD reports that 30 states require interlocks for drunk drivers, that every state has some interlock law. MADD further states that studies show that such interlock laws would reduce drunk driving deaths by 15% nationwide.
Driving under the influence increases the chances of wrong-way driving collisions. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has compiled a special report and found some trends in wrong way collisions:
- Drivers over 70 are over represented as at-fault in wrong way accidents. This could be related to worsening eyesight as drivers age.
- Most incidents of wrong-way driving involve a driver entering an exit ramp.
- 78% of all wrong-way accidents occur between 6 pm and 6 am. This can be attributed to limited visibility after dark.
- There is a higher rate of wrong-way crashes on the weekend, likely because more people are out drinking and driving than during the week.
- The majority of at-fault drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Driving under the influence also increases the likelihood of distracted driving because drugs and alcohol affect a person’s ability to perceive risks. An impaired driver is more likely to use their phone and engage in other distracting behaviors, as a wrongful death lawyer Phoenix, AZ offers knows well.
Do you part to stay safe:
- If you will be drinking or using an impairing drug, plan ahead for a safe ride home.
- Do not let a person get behind the wheel if they have been drinking or using drugs. Help to arrange a safe ride home for them.
- Contact law enforcement if you see an impaired driver on the road.
Thanks to the Law Office of Paul Englander, PLC for their insight into personal injury claims and driving under the influence.