The consequences and effects of drunk driving or driving under the influence (DUI) in America are sobering and alarming. On average, every 53 minutes in the USA, someone dies in a drunk driving crash. This number equates to the death of 27 people every day. Moreover, it is estimated that every 90 seconds, someone is injured because of a drunk driving accident. the most crucial issue in addressing this menace is The high casualty rate among teens and children. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among teens, and roughly, 1/3 of these accidents involve alcohol or another substance. Two hundred and eleven children were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2010 (U.S. Department of Transportation). Out of these 211 fatalities, 62% were riding in a car with an alcohol-impaired driver. The statistics above prove the existence of hazards awaiting during the alcohol-impaired driving; thus, it is necessary to address this issue and find the solution how to prevent fatalities.
Drinking alcohol and driving are mutually exclusive factors. Alcohol substances have an impact on the one’s attentiveness and the ability to make quick and sensible decisions on the road. Furthermore, spirits make the reaction to changes slower; therefore, the drivers cannot perform difficult maneuvers between the passing cars. To address the problem of alcohol-impaired driving, all states in the USA have implicated a 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This level is considered the legal limit for driving a motor vehicle for people aged 21 years or older (Drinking and Driving). According to the road laws and highway regulations, it is prohibited for the drivers under the age of 21 to operate a car or other vehicle with any level of spirits in their system. The TAC campaign video illustrates the adverse consequences of drunk driving. It is estimated that approximately 32% of fatal car crashes involve an intoxicated driver or pedestrian.
The Influence of BAC on a Driver
First, at BAC level of 0.02, the person begins to feel the relaxation, altered mood as well as some lack of sober judgments, which causes a decline in the ability to perform several tasks simultaneously and the decrease in visual functions.
Then, at BAC comprising 0.05, the spirits affect the psychomotor performance, including slower eye movements and weaker visual perception. Consequently, the reaction of the driver is significantly impaired. As a result, the information is processed slower causing reduced ability to notice moving objects, decrease in the coordination, challenges while steering, and reduced response to accidents (Drinking and Driving).
At BAC level of 0.08, muscle coordination is inadequate as balance, vision, speech, reaction time, and hearing are all impaired. At this level, it is more challenging for the driver to detect hazards and react in an appropriate manner. Moreover, the process of thinking, the ability to self-control, logical reasoning, and memory are all influenced, resulting in loss of speed control, loss of memory of short duration, reduced concentration, and decreased capabilities of information processing.
The Impact of Alcohol Substances on Teenagers’ Driving
According to the criminal law of the USA, DUI is considered a felony. The penalty for such a crime committed includes a mandatory fine, a substantial surcharge, the revocation of a license, and possible imprisonment (Drinking and Driving).
Contrary to popular belief, impairment is not reliant upon the type of alcohol consumed, but rather on the number of drinks over a certain period. Despite myths and misconceptions, coffee, a cold shower, or physical exercises will not make a person sober, only time will. The best remedy is simply to abstain from drinking when operating a motor vehicle. Drivers under the age of 21 already have a No Tolerance policy that does not permit any alcohol in the blood system while behind the wheel. The consequence of such driving could include expensive fines, loss of license, and a jail term. Abstinence from alcohol, especially for kids and teens, is the best mode of action. It is factual that kids and teens who consume alcohol at a young age are 7 times more likely to be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lives.
April is the most dangerous month concerning alcohol responsibility in the U.S (Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility) and there is an emphasis on the dangers of drunk driving. Every person, either a parent with children in elementary school, a new teen driver or an adult on the roads, should learn the importance of alcohol responsibility during this month. Since the implementation of the foundation for advancing alcohol responsibility, alcohol-impaired driving, and underage drinking have reached low rates. According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, “drunk driving fatalities have decreased 36% since 1991 and among our nation’s youth lifetime alcohol consumption has decreased 42%”. Numerous factors have an impact on children, mainly friends, teachers, celebrities, and pop culture. However, parents are the leading influence on their children’s decision to drink or not to drink alcohol. Talking to the teenagers about alcohol in time is the best way to keep them safe. During the previous 10 years, 62% of children reported speaking to their parents on the matters related to underage drinking. Moreover, they also talked to their educators, counselors, and other practitioners (Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility).
For the teenagers, the dangers of drunk driving should be emphasized even more. Children are overly confident and think they are invincible. However, parents have years of driving experience; therefore, they are qualified to instruct adolescence concerning safe driving. Twenty percent of teenagers killed in fatal car crashes in 2013 had been participating in underage drinking. In the U.S., there is a No Tolerance policy on alcohol to drivers aged 21 and below. Teens should be educated and made aware of the consequences of teen drinking and driving.
Alcohol abuse is also rampant among college students. In spite of numerous efforts by government, academia, and advocacy organizations, dangerous over consumption of alcohol remains a major health and safety issue, affecting college students on campuses across the nation. In particular, binge drinking has remained constant over the past few years. These young adults constantly put themselves at risk by getting on the roads while drunk. In addition to efforts made by the different institutions, it is important to note that parents continue to be a strong influence once a child is on campus.
Basic Approaches to Decreasing Underage Drinking
Youth and underage drinking are a complex problem, requiring cooperation at all levels of society. Three basic approaches, however, have proven to be effective in the prevention of the problem:
Curtailing the availability of alcohol
Adolescence tends to be influenced by their environment, including peers, family, and availability. There are strict laws regarding selling of alcohol to underage persons. Therefore, strict adherence is of paramount importance to keep children and teenagers from purchasing alcohol. Parents are urged to talk and communicate with their offspring regarding alcohol and be positive role models for them.
Consistent enforcement of existing laws and regulations
For those individuals not deterred by preventive efforts, other strategies and interventions can be implemented to address their behavior. The criminal justice department needs to work in collaboration with leaders of traffic safety to determine emerging issues and equip them with the tools needed to enforce DUI laws effectively, including adjudication, sanction, supervision, and treatment of impaired drivers.
Changing norms and behaviors through education
All drivers should be educated about the risks of driving drunk and the responsible decisions that ensure their safety, as well as the safety of others on the road. However, the most effective way to stop drunk driving is to prevent it from happening in the first place.