These days, there is so much focus on the very real danger of distracted driving, particularly texting while driving, the cruel fact that people continue to die as victims of drunk drivers sometimes gets less attention than it deserves.
Because fatal car crashes involving drivers impaired by alcohol continue to take too many lives here in Indiana and Illinois as well as the rest of the United States.
Drunk Driving Accidents Kill One Person Every 51 Minutes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person will die in a drunk driving accident every FIFTY-ONE MINUTES. That tallies to over one person an hour, or 28 victims per day.
Some drunk drivers do get caught, and arrested on a DUI charge. However, the great majority of drunk drivers manage to escape law enforcement.
According to one government study, 99% of drivers who admitted to driving drunk reported to researchers they had never been pulled over for driving under the influence. See, Jewett A, Shults RA, Banerjee T, Bergen G Alcohol-impaired driving among adults— United States, 2012. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015; 64(30):814-17.
Moreover, a great majority of drunk drivers who do get arrested and convicted on drunk driving charges do not learn their lesson.
Studies show that 50-75% of these convicted drunk drivers will continue to drive even if they have a suspended driver’s license. See, Peck, R. C., RJ WILSON, and L. Sutton. Strategies For Dealing With The Persistent Drinking Driver. Appendix C: Workshop Background Papers. C6. Driver License Strategies For Controlling The Persistent Dui Offender. No. HS-041 995. 1995.
Once again, while there are laws on the books making dangerous conduct illegal, the laws themselves are not enough to keep innocent people out of harm’s way. And the police aren’t able to thwart the epidemic of drunk drivers motoring alongside our cars as well as those of our loved ones and colleagues.
Blood Alcohol Concentration: The Formula for a Drunk Driver
Nice people can be drunk drivers. Your neighbor, your office colleague, your friend from the gym or the coffee shop or the yoga class: anyone can become a drunk driver whose impairment results in a fatal motor vehicle accident.
Some fatal DUI accidents are caused by repeat offenders and individuals with an alcohol dependency or addiction. However, there are a shockingly high number of drunk driving crashes that are caused by a driver who did not realize they were impaired and did not have a habit of drinking alcoholic beverages.
Buzzed driving is indeed drunk driving. See, e.g., Phillips, David P., Ana Luiza R. Sousa, and Rebecca T. Moshfegh. “Official blame for drivers with very low blood alcohol content: there is no safe combination of drinking and driving.” Injury prevention (2014): injuryprev-2013.
The key that makes anyone a drunk driver is their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It is the level of alcohol that has been absorbed by the stomach and intestine and passed into the bloodstream. The level of alcohol in the blood is measured by the weight of the alcohol found in a specific amount of blood. This is its “concentration” or the blood-alcohol concentration or BAC.
As explained by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), practically any amount of alcohol in the human body will have some effect on the person’s mental processes and physical abilities.
BAC Effects of Alcohol on the Driver: Predictable Impact on Their Driving:
|.02%||Some loss of judgment, relaxation, slight body warmth, altered mood||Decline in visual functions (rapid tracking of a moving target), decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time (divided attention)|
|.05%||Exaggerated behavior, may have loss of small-muscle control (e.g., focusing your eyes), impaired judgment, usually good feeling, lowered alertness, release of inhibition||Reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering, reduced response to emergency driving situations|
|.08%||Muscle coordination becomes poor (e.g., balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing), harder to detect danger, judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are impaired||Concentration, short-term memory loss, speed control, reduced information processing capability (e.g., signal detection, visual search), impaired perception|
|.10%||Clear deterioration of reaction time and control, slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinking||Reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately|
|.15%||Far less muscle control than normal, vomiting may occur (unless this level is reached slowly or a person has developed a tolerance for alcohol), major loss of balance||Substantial impairment in vehicle control, attention to driving task, and in necessary visual and auditory information processing|
Civil Accident Lawsuits Work to Stop Fatal Drunk Driving Accidents
It leaves the system of civil justice, where victims have accident claims and personal injury lawsuits to file, that works toward ending the grim reality of DUI fatalities in Indiana and Illinois.
Together with advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), public lawsuits brought against drivers together with others who may share their liability (employers, rental car agencies, bars, restaurants, social hosts, and more) are significant forces in the fight to end Drunk Driving Accidents and Fatal DUI Crashes.
Personal injury accident claims involving the drunk driving accident victim and their loved ones are often the tools of justice to make a drunk driver take responsibility for the crash he or she caused, and its aftermath.
For more details, see our earlier posts, “How Many Drunk Drivers Are There in Indiana and Illinois? The Danger of Drunk Driving Accidents Is High” and “Drunk Driving Accident: Who’s Legally Liable? Answer is Different for Indiana and Illinois.”
2017 Holiday Season Means Growing Risk of Fatal Drunk Driving Accidents
It is September 2017 and once again, we are entering the annual holiday season. Stores are already filled with Halloween costumes and party favors – and some vendors have already begun to stock Christmas decorations.
With the holidays come more excuses and opportunities to take one drink too much. Football tailgates, family gatherings, office parties …. People who ordinarily would never drive impaired will nevertheless be driving drunk.
Sadly, it’s to be predicted that people in Indiana and Illinois will be in great danger of being a victim of a drunk driver and perhaps lose their lives in a DUI accident. Please, let’s be careful out there!