Drunk Driving

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Every 22 minutes, someone will die in an alcohol-related traffic accident. Although you probably think that it could never happen to you, experts say everyone has a 40% chance of being in a crash involving alcohol use sometime in their life. According to a Gallup survey, funded by State Farm, of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), drunken driving is our No. 1 highway safety problem. Through education, increased law enforcement and stiffer penalties, the number of alcohol-related traffic accidents can be reduced.

Since the early 1980's, there has been a substantial decline in drinking and driving and in the number of alcohol-related deaths and injuries on the roads. However, drinking and driving remains one of the main causes of death and injury. Between 1993 and 1996 casualties in drink drive accidents had begun to rise again, but in 1997 this trend again went into reverse and there were further falls in the number of casualties.

In 1997, there were an estimated 540 deaths and over 16,000 injuries involving illegal blood alcohol levels. Around half of the casualties were to people other than the drinking drivers themselves. There were probably an additional 250 people killed in accidents involving drivers and riders with raised blood alcohol levels but still below the current legal limit. Altogether, therefore, around one in five road deaths are alcohol related.

The average blood alcohol content among fatally injured r\drinking drivers is 17%. Almost half of fatally injured drinking drivers have a BAC of .2% over (which is twice the legal limit in most jurisdictions). High BAC drivers tend to be male, aged 25-35, and have a history of DWI convictions.

Alcohol affects your driving skills in many ways. After drinking, the brain works inefficiently, taking longer to receive messages from the eye; processing information becomes more difficult and instructions to the muscles are delayed. Alcohol can slow down reaction time by 10 to 30%. It...
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