Getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking alcohol is an irresponsible mistake. Not only do you take your own life in your hands, you also risk the lives of every other driver and pedestrian you encounter while you’re driving. Despite this fact, hundreds of millions of people continue to drive under the influence every year leaving behind a trail of dead and injured victims. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the results of drunk driving by examining the effect alcohol has on the ability to drive, as well as some of the more troubling drunk driving statistics.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a drunk driving accident, you should consult with a Sacramento car accident attorney as soon as possible to make sure your interests are protected and you preserve your ability to get the compensation you deserve.
Alcohol and Driving – The Effects
Alcohol is a depressant that can have serious effects on the central nervous system of the human body. Attention span, reaction time, balance and vision are all impacted by alcohol consumption. The more alcohol that is consumed, the greater the alcohol-related impairment becomes. In this section, we’re going to look at the general effects that alcohol consumption has on the body, as well as how those effects specifically impact on the ability to operate a motor vehicle.
As a note, the effects listed below assume a 160 pound man drinking a standard drink containing approximately 0.6 oz. of pure alcohol. This is the equivalent of a 12oz. beer, 5 oz. of wine or a 1.5 oz. shot of 80 proof spirits. Weight, health, age, lack of sleep and other factors can alter the effects described below.
After two drinks, the average blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .02%. The physical effects of this much alcohol include an altered mood state, some loss of judgment, general relaxation and a slight feeling of warmth. The effects of the alcohol on the ability to drive include a decline in visual function and the ability to perform two tasks at the same time.
After three drinks, the average blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .05%. The physical effects of this much alcohol include exaggerated behavior, the loss of small-muscle control (e.g., focusing your eyes), greater impaired judgment, lowered alertness and lowered inhibition. The effects of the alcohol on the ability to drive include reduced coordination, reduced ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering and reduced response to emergency driving situations.
After four drinks, the average blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08%. The physical effects of this much alcohol include poor muscle coordination (speech, balance, vison and hearing are all affected) and impaired judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory. The effects of the alcohol on the ability to drive include an inability to concentrate, short-term memory loss, inability to control speed, reduced information processing capability and impaired perception.
After five drinks, the average blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .10%. The physical effects of this much alcohol include clear deterioration of reaction time and control, slurred speech, poor coordination, and slowed thinking. The effects of the alcohol on the ability to drive include a reduced ability to maintain lane position and brake appropriately.
After seven drinks, the average blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .15%. The physical effects of this much alcohol include far less muscle control than normal and a major loss of balance. The effects of the alcohol on the ability to drive include a substantial impairment in vehicle control, an inability to concentrate on driving and a reduction in necessary visual and auditory information processing.
As can be seen, alcohol has a serious effect on the ability to drive. Furthermore, this effect is intensified when the amount of alcohol consumption is increased. The end result is a complete impairment of all the physical and mental components that are necessary to safely operate a car.
Alcohol and Driving – The Statistics
Drunk drivers cause untold damage each and every year. In this section we’re going to take a look at some of the sobering statistics that demonstrate the dangers of drinking and driving.
In 2014, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.
This accounted for nearly one-third of all traffic related deaths in the United States.
On average, someone in the U.S. is killed by a drunk driver every 40 minutes.
19% of all the traffic related deaths of children ages 0 to 14 involved alcohol.
One half of those children were passengers in a vehicle being driven by someone under the influence.
In 2014, over 1.1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
However, that figure represents only 1% of the estimated 121 million people who drove under the influence of alcohol that year.
Roughly three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related collision at some point in their life.
A driver with a BAC of .08 is 11 times more likely to be in a fatal accident than a driver who has consumed no alcohol.
Nearly 75% of drunk drivers involved in fatal collisions were not wearing their safety belts.
According to estimates, a first-time drunk-driving offender has already driven drunk more than 80 times before being arrested.
Men are about twice as likely as women to drive under the influence of alcohol and to be involved in a fatal collision.
More than 40% of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared with just 15% of drivers with no alcohol in their system.
Somewhere between 50% to 75% of drunk drivers who have their licenses suspended for DUI convictions continue to drive without a license.
Drugs other than alcohol (such as marijuana and cocaine) are involved in approximately 18% of fatal motor vehicle collisions and have most often been used in combination with alcohol.