The Crash Consequences Of DUI
The struggle against excessive drinking is very old, and in classical Greek society, it was normal to dilute wine to reduce the effects. Most of us remember Temperance Societies from history, and their effects on Prohibition. This age old struggle is more immediate now due to the rise of the automobile. With the ability of a single person to get into a car and go where whim proscribes, we’ve also been forced to face the issue of those who do so while drinking alcohol.
Automobiles kill around 43,000 Americans a year. Around 39% of those are due to drunken driving. This means around 16,500 Americans die each year due to someone operating an automobile while impaired by alcohol use. To put this number into perspective, the US suffered 47,424 battle deaths in a decade of action in Vietnam.
The deaths due to alcohol related car crashes are one and a half times the total battle deaths the US suffered in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War and total Indian Wars. Statistically speaking, every 32 minutes someone in the US dies from an alcohol related car accident. Polls show 159 million cases a year of Americans driving under the influence, as samples of the population estimate how often they drive while legally drunk. Crashes due to drunk driving cost the US an estimated $51 billion a year.
Naturally, there are vigorous attempts to prevent this. In 2003 alone, more than 1.4 million arrests were made for drunken driving. One of the most effective, conscious changes to culture ever was the designated driver, and it isn’t unusual to find bars where designated drivers are accepted and even given reduced costs for non-alcoholic drinks.
There are programs in many cities to pay for taxi rides home for those who are under the influence and are not safe to drive themselves. Hollywood has been pressured to reduce the glamor associated with drinking and show it less often, and in a less pleasant light. Commercials encourage alternatives from not drinking to calling for help when impaired. Television shows from the news to Mythbusters show the effects of drinking on reaction times and ability to judge risks.
Despite these, the statistics on deaths due to car crashes with alcohol involved have been stable for twenty years. There has been little movement in either direction. Since the population is actually rising, this means slight improvement is taking place on a percentage basis, but the goal is to find a way to roll those numbers back so the totals per year begin to drop. There are points of success.
Drinking and driving has been reduced by more than 50% by those younger than 20 over the last two decades, but has stalled towards the end of that period. Research continues, at the center for disease control and other places, to find the most effective method of dealing with this issue.