Drinking and Driving

 

Most people enjoy a little drink from time to time and there is nothing wrong with this. A glass of wine a day is even recommended by the doctor. The problem appears when you get drunk and lose control. If you then consider driving, then it gets even worse.

Drinking and driving is very often a lethal combination. Did you know that almost one in seven of all deaths on the road involve drivers who are over the current legal limit? The more you drink, the higher the risk to be involved in a road accident.

It doesn’t mean that if you are under the legal limit of alcohol intoxication, you are much safer. Actually many of us overestimate ourselves in a drink and drive situation. Even one drink will have an effect on your judgement and driving ability.

You think that you can do things better but in fact you just do them worse. Your ability to judge things and make good decisions becomes prejudiced. If we want to avoid accidents, it looks like we have to choose: drinking or driving?!

What does drinking do to your driving?

Alcohol influences your driving even if it’s ingested in small quantities. Unlike food, alcohol doesn't digest but gets absorbed in the bloodstream from the small intestine, and less rapidly from the stomach and colon. The blood carries the alcohol to all important organs, such as liver, heart, brain - which coordinates all our activities, including those involved in drinking. That’s why it’s always better to avoid driving after drinking, otherwise you can experience the following effects of alcohol:

  • Your perception abilities are affected; you are less likely to observe traffic signs, bikers, pedestrians or cars coming from the opposite side;
  • You have less control on your reactions in traffic situations; your eyes are slower and they remain focused more time on the same object;
  • Your space perspective narrows; you tend to focus more straightforward and don't look to right or left;
  • Your reaction time increases and your reflexes diminish; it takes you more time to respond fast and adapt to the traffic stimuli;
  • You will find it more difficult to drive in a straight line;
  • You are less able to judge distances and speed;
  • You may have a tendency to be overconfident and put yourself in danger.

Risk population

Are we all facing the same risk for driving under the influence of alcohol? Is there a difference? Who is most likely to consume alcohol and drive? The statistics say that the population with the highest risk of drunk driving is the following:

  • Male drivers between 22-45 years old who are responsible for almost 50 percent of all drunk driving crashes;
  • People with drinking problems or chronic drunk drivers; some statistics estimate that one of seven adults has a drinking problem and so he is a potential drunk driver;
  • Teenage drinkers who are inexperienced drivers as well as drinkers;
  • Drinking and drive convictions who are most likely to repeat their behavior and make an accident.

Consequences

You are an experienced driver and you have been driving several times while impaired and nothing bad has happened. Probably that makes you think nothing bad will ever happen. You are wrong. Just take a look to the following possible consequences and maybe this will convince you not do step in you car after a glass wine. Driving drunk can lead to terrible accidents such as:

  • Killing someone else
  • Losing your own life
  • Imprisonment
  • Criminal records
  • Living with guilt that you injured or caused an accident; depression
  • Legal costs
  • Increased insurance costs

Some quick stats

Alcohol has a big effect on the way people drive. The risk of being involved in a crash increases as the blood alcohol level increases. In fact, if you drink and drive (with a blood alcohol level over 80mg per 100ml) you are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than a sober driver. Take a look at the following facts and you may be amazed:

  • Alcohol related crashes are the leading cause of death for young Americans, between the ages of 16 and 24 years old;
  • For all Americans between 5 and 35 years of age, motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death. Over 50% of these accidents are caused by alcohol impaired drivers;
  • One American life is lost every 20 minutes in alcohol related auto crashes;
  • It is estimated that three out of every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol related accident in his or her lifetime;
  • Males (31%) were more than twice as likely as females (13%) to report driving after drinking. They also consume more alcohol before driving;
  • Over 394,000 people have died in alcohol related accidents in the past 20 years;
  • Presently over 17,000 people are killed each year in alcohol related accidents;
  • 300+ people are killed each week in alcohol related accidents;
  • 45+ people are killed each day in alcohol related accidents.

See the drunk driving death clock for an up-to-the-minute approximation of the deaths so far this year in the US.

Learn about alcohol testing here.