14 May 2012
Drinking Thrills Kills Driving Skills
On the night of 3rd February, 2007, Jane Cuthbert from the state of Missouri lost her two sons in a tragic motor accident. She was buying new supplies from a grocery shop, and because she was in a hurry she left her two sons, Brian and Ken, in the car. As she stepped out of the grocery shop, she saw a blue minivan ram into her stationary car. Her two boys, including the driver of the minivan who was apparently drunk, died on impact. Since then, she has gone into rehabilitation twice because of severe depression. Although this story is fiction, it is eerily similar to frequent true life stories across the United States as this monster called “drunk-driving” continues to claim many lives. Impaired driving that arises from consumption of alcoholic beverages is referred to as “driving under the influence” (DUI) or “drunk-driving.” Impaired driving is one of the leading causes of automobile accidents. According to statistics released by the World Health Organization (WHO), “drunk-driving is the leading cause of fatal road accidents” (qtd. in Overbey 78). What is unfortunate is that all accidents can be prevented. Though the numbers of alcohol-induced crashes have dropped significantly for the last 30 years, the figures are still high and, therefore, a lot has to be done to bring these figures down. Many countries have come up with means of addressing drunk-driving; the most common method involves determining the maximum allowed blood alcohol concentration (BAC) (Moskowitz and Burns 12). The maximum BAC is used as the foundation of campaigns targeted at reducing alcohol-impaired driving. The BAC values are different from one country to another and are dependent on several factors including culture. The legal limit of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of adults, in the United States, is below 0.08%. A BAC concentration of 0.08% or above is considered illegal. Drunk drivers are more likely to cause accidents than sober drivers because alcohol reduces the reaction time of drivers by up to 30% (Moskowitz and Burns 12). It blurs their vision and diminishes their ability to read traffic lights correctly. Research studies have also confirmed that crashes involving drunk drivers are more fatal than crashes involving sober drivers (Cherpitel et al. 169). This has been linked to the fact that drunk drivers rarely use seat belts and have a high tendency of exceeding the speed limit. In addition to high BAC levels, there are other factors that increase the likelihood of a road crash, for example, age, gender and previous DUI conviction. Young drivers are at a higher risk of alcohol-impaired crashes than older drivers. Drivers with a high BAC content tend to be males between the age of 25 to 35 (Overbey 17). This could be because the youth like taking risks and are more likely to exceed speed limits compared to their older counterparts. The limited driving experience could also be a factor that increases the risk. Regarding gender, men seem to be at a higher risk of crashing compared to women (Moskowitz and Burns 13). However, a trend of elderly women drinking and driving is possible in the future. Additionally, repeat offenders of driving under the influence (DUI) have also been found to be involved in fatal road accidents. A majority of drivers with BAC of 0.08% or higher involved in fatal crashes were found to have had previous DUI convictions (Bergen and Shults 1351). In Canada, four people lose their lives every day on Canada's roads through the action of drunk-drivers, while a further 190 are injured (Dougherty). The figures are much higher in the United States. A person dies every 48 minutes in the United States from drunk driving. This adds up to 30 deaths every single day. In “Vital Signs: Alcohol-Impaired Driving Among Adults,” Gwen Bergen and Ruth Shults report the following: Approximately one third of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involve alcohol-impaired...
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