Casual consumption of alcoholic beverages results in impairment of the motor skills, which can cause a driver to make poor decisions behind the wheel of a car. The effects of alcohol on the ability to drive include:
• Brain function slows and reactions become sluggish.
• Speed and distance are difficult to judge, so cars and stationary objects can be obstacles.
• The driver’s confidence level is exaggerated, and the driver takes risks that are dangerous and reckless.
• Natural multi-tasking required for handling a car becomes impossible. Steering, speed control and evaluating surroundings is impossible in this impaired state.
The blood alcohol content, or BAC, is considered the standard from which the level of impairment is determined. Three tests have been devised to evaluate the driver’s BAC, including the breathalyzer, urinalysis and blood test. The most accurate version is the blood test, but a qualified medical technician must draw the driver’s blood. Each state selects the primary testing method used for licensed drivers.
Higher levels of blood alcohol concentration will increase the risk of accident exponentially.
• 0.05 – Doubles the risk of an auto accident.
• 0.08 – Driver is at 7 times the risk.
• 0.15 – Driver is at 25 times the risk of colliding with another vehicle or stationary object.
The most common legal blood alcohol content limit in each of the 50 states is 0.08. Michigan is considering raising theirs to 0.10 in 2013. Drivers with a BAC at or above the legal limit face penalties that are designed to discourage driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Unusual Facts About Drunk Driving
• Traffic accidents cause more deaths in people between the age of 5 and 27 than any other event. Nearly half of these accidents involve an alcohol-impaired driver.
• Each year, more than 16 billion miles are driven when drivers are under the influence of alcohol.
• Accident statistics reveal that approximately 2.6 million accidents each year involve drunk drivers and change the lives of four million innocent people who sustain injuries and damage to their vehicles.
• Male drivers are four times more likely to drive while intoxicated than female drivers.
• Drivers between the age of 21 and 29 drive the highest percentage of miles while intoxicated.
• More than 2,300 laws concerning drunk driving have been passed since 1980.
• Approximately every 40 minutes, someone in the United States is killed in an automobile accident where one driver is alcohol-impaired.
• Nearly 30 percent of all Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related accident at some point in life.
• Less than one percent of all admitted episodes of drunk driving results in an arrest for DUI.
• A man who weighs 170 pounds would require only four drinks within 60 minutes without consuming any food to reach a blood alcohol content level that matches the legal limit of 0.08 g/dL. A woman weighing 140 pounds would reach the limit while consuming three drinks in one hour.
• Alcohol will remain in the body for up to six hours after consuming the alcohol that creates a BAC of 0.08, and higher concentrations will require more time to dispel.
• Alcohol is diluted in the vital organs with the highest water levels in the body, so the brain is especially vulnerable to the effects of alcohol.
• Almost three-fourths of all fatal car accidents that occur between midnight and 3:00 am involve an impaired driver.
• Approximately half of all drunk drivers have a BAC that is at least double the legal limit of 0.08 g/dL.
• The age group between 21 and 24 makes up 35 percent of all drunk drivers involved in fatal car accidents.
• Almost 75 percent of drunk drivers do not wear seat belts.
• A recent study showed that a drunk driver has driven drunk more than 80 times before the first time he is arrested for the offense.
• Beer is the most common beverage consumed prior to an automobile accident or arrest involving a drunk driver.
• About 18 percent of all fatal car crashes involve drugs, such as cocaine or marijuana, instead of alcohol. Drivers who use these drugs drink alcohol, too.
• Laws in all 50 states enforce zero-tolerance laws for teenage drivers who are considered impaired with a BAC of 0.02 g/dL or higher.
• In 1988, the deadliest accident involving a drunk driver occurred in Kentucky on I-71. A drunk driver collided with a full school bus. The impact caused the bus to burst into flames and 27 people died while 34 were injured.
• Speed plays a significant role in 40 percent of all fatal crashes involving drunk drivers. Only 15 percent of fatal accidents not involving alcohol also involve speeding.
• After a DUI conviction, more than half of the convicted drivers will continue to drive with a suspended driver’s license.
• Four out of five drivers know that the blood alcohol content is used to determine the level of impairment of a drunk driver. Only one in four drivers know the legal BAC limit in their state.
Surprising Alcohol Facts
• The human body continually produces alcohol. This process is called endogenous ethanol production. Some people naturally generate sufficient alcohol naturally to register sufficient blood alcohol content levels to be arrested for DUI.
• One out of seven drivers suffers from diabetes, which causes the body to produce acetone. A breathalyzer machine will record the acetone as alcohol on the expelled breath. This medical condition can cause the driver to exhibit disorientation, slurred speech, drowsiness, staggering and poor motor control. These conditions affect the ability to control an automobile.
The Wisest Approach
Drivers who wish to avoid an automobile accident, or worse, should designate a driver whenever alcohol is being consumed in groups. The effects of alcohol on the human body cannot be avoided, so the responsible adult will realize that any alcohol consumption disqualifies everyone from driving an automobile.
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