Effects of Drinking and Driving

Why is drinking and driving a bad combination?

Alcohol can be beneficial for the health if you consume it in small quantities . But not everybody can stop after the first drink. Sometimes one glass leads to another and people end up drunk, which gives a feeling of annoying discomfort and influences all of our body systems.

As if it’s not bad enough, some people combine drinking with driving, which has a lot of implications for the people around us also. The effects of drinking and driving are always risky and can often be lethal.

Statistics say that every half hour someone will die in an alcohol-related traffic accident and everyone has a 30% lifetime risk of being involved in a motor crash related to alcohol.

Teenagers, especially, are a risk category and one of the effects of teen drinking and driving is that several thousand are killed every year and other 85,000 end up injured.

The truth is that alcohol influences driving no matter how little we drink. Once ingested the blood carries the alcohol to all-important organs that coordinate our activities, including driving. Take a look at the possible effects of intoxication under different BAC levels:

0.02 – 0.05 relaxation, slight body warmth, lower inhibition
0.05 – 0.10 impairment of speech, vision, balance; sedation, tranquility, slowed reaction time, reduced self-control
0.10 – 0.20 slurred speech, blurred vision, poor coordination, loss of balance, slowed thinking and nausea
0.20 – 0.30 difficult walking, total mental confusion, double vision, vomiting
0.30 – 0.40 may pass out, tremors, memory loss, cool body temperature
0.40 – 0.50 difficulty breathing, coma, possible death
0.50 and up death

Specific consequences of drinking on driving skills

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers under the influence of alcohol often display certain characteristics when they are on the road:

  • perception abilities are affected; they are less likely to observe traffic signs, bikers, pedestrians or cars coming from the opposite side;
  • less control on the reactions in traffic situations; the eyes are slower and they remain focused more time on the same objective;
  • space perspective narrows; drivers tend to focus more straightforward and don’t look to right or left;
  • reaction time increases and reflexes diminish; it takes more time to respond fast and adapt to traffic stimuli;
  • difficulty driving in a straight line; sometimes driving on the wrong side of the road;
  • poor judgement of distances and speed;
  • driving at a very slow speed or stopping without cause;
  • driving after dark with headlights off;
  • tendency to be overconfident and put yourself in danger.

The human life costs of driving drunk

Driving drunk can lead to terrible accidents such as:

  • killing someone else;
  • losing your own life;
  • imprisonment;
  • criminal records;
  • living with guilt that you injured or caused an accident; depression;
  • legal costs;
  • increased insurance costs.

True drinking and driving facts

If you think that driving drunk is of no concern, take a look at these sobering facts:

  • Alcohol related crashes are the leading cause of death for young Americans, between the ages of 16 and 24 years old;
  • For all Americans between 5 and 35 years of age, motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death;
  • One American life is lost nearly every 30 minutes in alcohol related auto crashes;
  • It is estimated that three out of every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol related accident in his or her lifetime;
  • 418,000 people have died in alcohol related accidents in the past 20 years;
  • Presently over 13,000 people are killed each year in alcohol related accidents;
  • Over 300 people are killed each week in alcohol related accidents;
  • 45 people are killed each day in alcohol related accidents.

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