Facts About Drinking And Driving

Nearly twenty percent of all fatal car accidents are alcohol-related. By raising awareness and taking preventative measures, people can reduce their risk of being involved in such an accident.

The dangers of drinking and driving have been well reported by the media, yet many still continue to ignore the risks, often leading to the injury and death of other innocent motorists. According to some estimates, three in five American drivers will be involved in an alcohol-related accident at some point during their lives. Driving while intoxicated can lead to serious fines, jail time, and loss of driving privileges.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that nearly 15,000 Americans die every year from alcohol related accidents. The greatest tragedy is that each of these deaths is preventable. States have enacted enforcement and prevention policies to reduce the number of alcohol-related fatalities. Public awareness programs such as Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have also helped increase understanding of the dangers of drunk driving. In many areas, programs are offered to provide rides to those who are too inebriated to get behind the wheel. Despite the existence of such programs and the proliferation of information about drunk driving, some people continue to ignore the risks.

The effects of alcohol on driving ability are profound. Driving requires multiple skills including staying alert, good decision-making skills, and quick responses to sudden changes in the environment. Alcohol consumption impairs these skills, rendering the driver incapable of performing the needed tasks. While the level of impairment is influenced by the amount of alcohol consumed, other factors such as gender and age also play a role. Because women have a higher amount of body fat, women's bodies metabolize alcohol differently, often leading to a more pronounced effect. Young drivers are generally inexperienced and their driving is more affected by drinking. Young drivers are also far more likely to drive while under the influence.



The level of intoxication is determined by the blood alcohol concentration (BAC). All states have BAC limits, meaning that anyone over a certain BAC level is considered legally drunk. These limits vary somewhat from state to state, with most having a BAC limit of 0.10 while some have a reduced limit of 0.08. Some impairment begins at a fairly low level of intoxication, such as attention problems. At the 0.05 level, visual ability and motor movement become weakened.

There are steps that you can take to reduce the dangers of drunk driving. The first and most important step is simple to never drink and drive. Second, never ride with an individual who is intoxicated since drunk drivers and their passengers are usually the ones who are hurt in an accident. Other measures you can take are to volunteer to be the designated driver when you are out with a group. Remember, being the designated driver means that you have had nothing to drink, not that you are the least drunk member of the group. Even a small amount of alcohol impairs driving ability. While driving, always wear a safety belt and choose vehicles that have airbags. Avoid driving on rural roads and avoid traveling after midnight, especially on weekends.

While you cannot control the choices that other drivers make, you can reduce your own risk by being aware of the dangers. Always drive defensively, with your attention focused on your environment and not on distractions such as cell phones or radios. Alcohol-related accidents are preventable, and a little caution can be of great help in avoiding such tragedies.

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