A lot of people don’t have enough information about drinking and driving and especially about the legal limits of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). All states have set the legal BAC limit for adults who drive after drinking at 0.08, but impairment of driving skills begins at much lower levels.
It may surprise you to learn that abilities to drive become affected even when you just have a small glass of wine. For example, certain driving skills such as steering a car while responding traffic stimuli, can be prejudiced at a BAC as low as 0.02. And the more alcohol you consume, the more impaired your driving skills will be.
What’s driving people?
We all know that there is a problem with drunk driving. In order to find out what can be done to stop this problem, we must identify the cause of the problem, which makes drinking and driving information very interesting. Why do some people choose to drink and drive?
- Alcohol-induced loss of judgement: alcohol affects the general perception; you are less likely to realistically appreciate the danger of drunk driving;
- Lack of planning: it’s essential to plan your drinking and the way you come back home. A lot of people don’t think about this and end up driving home while impaired. Some of the excuses they use is that there was no one else to drive them home, they didn’t consider to take a taxi or they didn’t plan to drink so much;
- Peer pressure: this is a factor especially for teenagers. Teens take drinking and driving as a proof of manhood;
- Rationalization: “I live 5 minutes away”, “It’s not the first time”. This crosses the mind of every drunk driver and they find excuses to justify their driving;
- Over-confidence: drinking changes the perception about our abilities, we overestimate things and believe we can do things better than when sober. In reality, we only do them much worse.
- Lack of education: despite the large mediatization of the dangers of driving drunk, there are still a lot of people who simply are unaware of the serious consequences. Both drinking and driving separately are such normal parts of many people’s lives, but the combination makes them dangerous.
People at risk: teenagers
Alcohol is the most used drug among teenagers all around the world. This happens taking in consideration the fact that drinking is forbidden under 18 or 21, in most countries. Some teenagers mainly drink at parties with friends. For others this is an everyday activity which can lead to serious drinking problems later on.
Both categories are at risk when it comes to driving. Roadside surveys indicate that the crash rates are much higher than those of other age groups when driving while impaired by alcohol. Take a look at some statistics about teenage drinking and driving:
- Teen drinking and driving is the number one death cause for this age category;
- 70 percent of all teenagers drink alcohol;
- 60 percent of all teen deaths in car accidents are alcohol-related;
- 4000 teenagers are killed every year;
- another 85,000 teenagers are injured, by driving drunk, as passengers or as innocent bystanders;
- Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed, run red lights, make illegal turns, ride with a drunk driver, and drive after using alcohol or drugs.
Characteristics of alcohol related fatalities
Driving drunk varies a lot depending on age, gender, race/ethnicity, time of the day, of the week, type of car, whether they are drivers, passengers, or pedestrians. Take a look to some interesting facts:
Gender: men are at higher risk to be involved in alcohol-related fatal crashes than women are;
Age: young and middle-age adults are more likely to get involved in alcohol related accidents. Deaths occur on lower BAC levels among youngsters between 16-20 years old, compared with other age group. A majority of death occurs at 0.15 BAC and above;
Race/Ethnicity: during 90-94, 72% killed were white men. 12.1% were African American, 2.4% Native American, 1.2% Asian Americans;
Crash participation: in 2002, 41% of the car fatalities were drivers deaths, compared with 37% passengers deaths and 47% pedestrians deaths;
Day of the week: alcohol related traffic crashes are more likely to occur during weekend and midnight ; 77% of fatal crashes occur between 6pm and 6 am . More alcoholic fatal crashes happen on Saturday, Sunday and Friday.