While drunk driving isn’t anything new under the sun, it’s still a rather prevalent problem here in Florida and the entire United States. No matter if you drive or take public transportation, your life, and the lives of those closest to you, can still be impacted by the actions of a drunk driver. Learn drunk driving facts so you have a solid idea of just how bad the issue is. When you’re armed with knowledge, you can make better decisions regarding your safety and the safety of your friends and family.
According to the CDC, roughly 10,500 people in the United States died in car accidents with drunk drivers in 2016, which made up about 30 percent of all traffic-related fatalities. Additional stats on drunk driving include:
- More than a million U.S. motorists were arrested for either driving drunk or driving under the influence of narcotics.
- The risk of death in an auto accident is 11 times higher if the driver has been drinking.
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving notes that about a third of motorists either convicted or arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol have a criminal record.
- 21 to 24 is the age group the most at risk for fatal drunk driving, followed by those aged 25 to 34.
- While male drivers are twice as likely to drive drunk compared to females, the percentage of female drunk drivers increased from 12 percent in 2003 to 14 percent to 2012.
- Motor vehicle accidents in which alcohol is a factor are more likely to occur at night rather than the day, and on weekends rather than weekdays.
Besides alcohol, a driver may be impaired by using marijuana or narcotics such as cocaine. Of course, driving is further impaired when a driver combines marijuana or narcotics with alcohol.
Note that the above, drunk driving facts are not meant to scare you or make you afraid to ever get behind the wheel again. Rather, they’re meant to encourage you to be that much more cautious and alert when driving.
The Reasons People Drive Drunk
Besides facts about drinking and driving, you may also be curious to know why people choose to drink and drive in the first place. It can be especially baffling when the dangers of drunk driving are so commonplace. So, what is the reason?
In a study conducted by Cheap Car Insurance, 12 percent of millennial-aged survey participants felt they could drink more than the legal limit and still get behind the wheel. Gen X survey participants who felt the same tallied in at 6 percent, and those from the Baby Boomer generation with the same answer came in at 3 percent.
There are also people who have friends who have driven drunk before without incident and are allowed to do so again. Also part of drunk driving facts is the reasoning that letting a person drive drunk is the only way to avoid or stop an argument. You also have to think about the fact that someone who has been drinking may not have sober friends to stop her or him from getting behind the wheel and making a potentially fatal mistake.
At the end of the day, alcohol impairs one’s ability to make good decisions. Driving home, or elsewhere, drunk may be a preferable risk compared to leaving a car at a bar or a friend’s house and making arrangements to pick it up the next day. Making a feasible plan for retrieving a car could be beyond a person’s ability to think while intoxicated.
The Effect Alcohol Has on the Body
Drunk driving facts also consider how alcohol physically impacts the body. For instance, after about two alcoholic drinks, your Blood Alcohol Concentration is about .02 percent. In terms of driving, that’s enough to make it hard for you to carry out two tasks at the same time. After three drinks and with a BAC of .05 percent, your coordination is negatively impacted, you can’t keep track of moving objects well and you have trouble steering.
After four drinks, you’re likely to have impaired perception, problems concentrating, short-term memory loss and trouble processing visual cues such as a turn signal. Five drinks often equal a BAC of .10 percent. That’s also when impaired drivers often have trouble staying in their lane and braking when they should.
A number of physiological factors can also impact a person’s driving ability. For instance, a person may be on medication and have trouble braking and staying in her or his lane after only having one drink. That’s why it’s good to ask your doctor how a new medication may impact your driving ability before you get behind the wheel. Not all drunk driving facts touch on how medication (as opposed to narcotics) can strip away your driving ability and perception.
What To Do If You Think a Driver Is Drunk
So, you haven’t been drinking, but you think the driver in front of or next to you has been imbibing. Besides the effects of alcohol on driving mentioned above, you can identify a potentially drunk driver by the following:
- Not using headlights while driving at night
- Sudden or illegal turns
- Slow to respond to traffic signals
- Almost hitting other vehicles or objects
- Driving in the middle of the road or on the center line
- Leaning forward over the steering wheel to see out the windshield
If you notice any of these signs, or any actions pointed out in the drunk driving facts in the previous section, use utmost caution. If you can, increase the following distance between you and the suspected driver. Gather as many facts as you can about the vehicle, especially the license plate, and pull over to call the police to let them know there’s a suspected drunk driver on the road.
It’s understandable that you want to do what you can to stop a drunk driver in case she or he causes an accident, but this is ill-advised. You don’t know how the driver will react, and you could do more harm than good. Doing your part under such circumstances involves alerting the police and doing everything you can to keep yourself safe. Remember, you should not be made to pay for someone else’s poor decisions.
What To Do If You’re in an Accident With a Drunk Driver
So, what if you’re in an accident with a drunk driver? What do drunk driving facts have to say about that? While your auto insurance will likely cover you, there’s a chance your provider may not pay out as much as you’re rightfully owed. Remember, insurance companies are businesses. Like any business, they want to make money rather than lose it.
Say there’s no disputing the other driver was drunk and is at fault. Her or his insurance provider may pressure you to accept the first settlement offered, but this is likely to be a mistake. Your injuries could be more extensive and long-lasting than originally thought, and the original settlement may not cover everything.
Rather than sign or agree to anything, you’re better off handing your case over to an accident attorney who has experience dealing with drunk drivers. That way, you can put your focus on making a recovery and learning more drunk driving facts so you know more about how to build a solid case. An attorney knows how to get you every cent you’re owed and how to see to it that those responsible are made to pay for their negligence.
Alternatives to Drunk Driving
There could be times when you drive and don’t plan on drinking, but it happens anyway. Maybe your friends invite you to a bar and you’re nearby. One drink turns into four, and you find yourself feeling tipsy. What do you do? If you’re at a bar, ask the owner if you can leave your vehicle on the premises and come back for it in the morning. You may be embarrassed to admit you’ve had too much to drink, but it’s better to admit it to a bartender rather than a police officer.
Ask a friend for a ride home, or you can take a taxi or use a ridesharing service. There are also sober/safe ride programs in various states you may be able to use, according to AAA. Even if these options cost money, they’re bound to be less expensive than a DUI, an insurance deductible or legal fees should you be hit with a lawsuit after driving drunk and causing an accident.
You may also know you’ll be going out and consuming alcohol. If so, go ahead and make arrangements for a taxi or ridesharing service to drive you to and from your destination. If you’ll be going out with several people, see if someone would be willing to be a designated driver. This individual should be responsible and dependable. Remember, learning about drunk driving facts and statistics is always preferable to becoming a statistic yourself.
Hopefully, these facts, statistics, and information have proven eye-opening and helpful. Be sure to put them to good use the next time you get behind the wheel or order your first drink for the night.
If you have been injured in a Palm Beach County car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. I encourage you to contact me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally to discuss your legal rights. To learn how the injury team at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers can help you Demand More® for your injuries, call (561) 513-4957 now. We serve Palm Beach County including West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, Jupiter, and Wellington.
*Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. If you need advice on specific legal issues, please consult with a licensed Personal Injury attorney.