Individuals may be aware that impaired driving is a major cause of fatal motor vehicle accidents. What they may not know, however, is that in 2012 over 10,000 individuals in the United States died in drunk driving accidents. This represents 31 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in the nation. In fact, 30 people lose their lives each day in drunk driving accidents. Drunk driving doesn’t just affect adults. Of the over 1,000 traffic-related deaths of children age 14-years-old or younger in 2012, one-fifth involved a drunk driver. Impaired driving doesn’t just include the consumption of alcohol. Driving under the influence of drugs — both legal drugs such as cold medicine and illegal drugs such as cocaine or marijuana — can also cause a fatal auto accident.
The use of ignition interlock devices that stop a vehicle from being operated by a driver who has had too much to drink can reduce impaired driving arrests by 70 percent. Similarly, sobriety checkpoints are another measure used to combat drunk driving. It has been shown that these checkpoints can reduce drunk driving accidents by 9 percent.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some other suggestions for combating drunk driving. First is the active enforcement of current drunk driving laws. This includes minimum drinking age laws, 0.08 percent blood alcohol content laws and zero tolerance laws for those underage. Another measure suggested is requiring drunk drivers to attend substance abuse treatment programs. Raising the tax on alcohol is another suggestion, as is revoking the license of those who drive drunk. Finally, promoting community action efforts is also suggested as a way to address drunk driving in our nation.
While there are criminal penalties for drunk driving, it is important to remember that in some instances a drunk driver can be held liable in civil court as well. If a person is killed in a drunk driving accident, their loved ones are left grieving and searching for answers. Their grief is only compounded by the stress of having to cope financially without the income their loved one provided. In addition, the victim’s survivors may have incurred costs for funeral expenses and pain and suffering. For all these reasons, the victim’s survivors may wish to pursue a wrongful death suit, as a way to seek compensation for their losses and hold the drunk driver accountable.
Wrong way driving: another consequence of alcohol use
Although some major freeway systems can be confusing, it would still take a lot of effort, for lack of a better word, for a person to actually start traveling the wrong direction on a limited access, multi-lane highway.
After all, there are a lot of warning devices and directional signs, as well as the tell-tale fact that one is driving straight into oncoming traffic. Still, wrong way driving accidents happen.
When they happen on the freeway, the results are usually tragic, as a high-speed, head-on collision will frequently lead to a serious injury or a fatality.
The reasons these auto accidents happen vary. In some cases, drivers get honestly confused by poor visibility or unusual traffic flows, such as in a construction zone. Of course, distracted or fatigued driving in these sorts of circumstances will not help. Moreover, when a driver is particularly inexperienced or is suffering from some physical limitation, like poor eyesight, a wrong way driving accident is more likely.
Unfortunately, drunk driving is one of the major reasons wrong way driving incidents happen and should be seen as a huge risk factor. It is not terribly surprising that someone who has had too much to drink in order to be able to drive safely in other respects would also be more prone to driving the wrong way on the freeway.
While wrong way driving accidents do happen, they are rarely if ever unpreventable. A driver who travels the wrong way on the Interstate will in most cases be legally responsible for any damages or injuries he or she causes, and victims could assure as much by filing the appropriate legal claim against the driver.
What makes drinking and driving so dangerous?
Drunk driving is a problem in every state in the nation. While many individuals generally know that mixing alcohol with driving is a dangerous idea, not everyone knows why this combination often has deadly results. This post will cover some of the effects that alcohol has on the body and how those effects may impact driving abilities, but readers should remember that this post does not provide any legal or medical advice.
When a person drinks alcohol they may experience effects on their physical and emotional conditions. Alcohol can slow a person’s reflexes and blur their vision. Their coordination may be impacted by the presence of alcohol in their body and they may also have slowed reaction times to objects that appear before them.
Alcohol can change a person’s mood and may impact their confidence. They may become more careless and more likely to take risks with alcohol in their system. They may be less likely to temper their impulses and may make poor decisions when operating their vehicles. Drivers who are impaired by alcohol may be erratic, difficult to avoid, and unpredictable for other motorists.
Drunk drivers are a menace to cities throughout America. Though many state and federal initiatives have decreased instances of drunk driving, still too many individuals are harmed in these preventable accidents each year. Drunk driving accident victims do not have to deal with their legal questions and concerns on their own.
Statistics of drunk driving accidents
Unfortunately, not all drivers are safe when they get behind the wheel. Even though motorists are aware of the rules of the road and what it takes to be a safe driver, various types of negligence and recklessness can occur. One serious type of reckless behavior is drunk driving. Such a situation does not only generate risks for the driver and his or her passengers but it also creates many serious dangers for other travelers on the roadways.
According to the bureau of transportation, a drunk driving accident occurs every two hours. Frequently, the consequences resulting from a drunk driving accident are arrests, property damage, injuries and deaths. According to recent statistics, roughly 4 million adults in the U.S. report that they have driven at least once under the influence of alcohol.
Based on reports from 2010, alcohol was involved in 2,020 pedestrian fatalities, 11,087 vehicle occupant fatalities and 209 bicycle fatalities. In addition to impairing drivers of motor vehicles, alcohol can also impair the judgment and the ability to safely operate a boat. In fact, 154 recreational boating fatalities occurred in 2010 because of alcohol involvement.
While enforcement through regulations and testing due to suspicions by law enforcement help deter and penalize drunk drivers, this unfortunately does not prevent such incidents from occurring. In fact, drivers still get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol at a surprising rate. Therefore, more and more victims are harmed and impacted by their negligence.
If investigation reveals that a drunk driver is the cause of a car crash, victims and the family members of victims might have resources available. A personal injury claim or wrongful death suit could help victims or their loved one recover compensation for losses and damages.
Study finds drunk driving deaths are largely under-reported
A new study has found that the number one cause for traffic fatalities in the United States may be under-reported, despite the already staggering numbers of drunk driving deaths on record each year.
Researchers comparing data from the National High Traffic Safety Administration with state and local death certificate reporting found a major discrepancy between the number of drunk driving crashes involving a fatality (from the NHTSA) and the number of deaths attributed to drunk driving (on the certificates). In fact, there are as many as seven times more deaths caused by drunk driving than are recorded on death certificates.
The findings have led more experts and advocates to support lowering the legal blood alcohol limit from .08 to .05. Many are concerned that the state and local data discrepancies are skewing the public’s view of the issue and making it harder to create effective policies to reduce fatal drunk driving car crashes.
Drunk driving is clearly a serious problem in the United States that must be tackled on the policy level. However, that does not take away from the personal responsibility of each individual who chooses to drink and drive, an action which puts other innocent parties at risk of death or injury. People who have been injured in drunk driving crashes or the family members of those killed by a drunk driver have a right to seek answer and accountability from the person who was at fault. Often this takes the form of a civil legal action between the victim and the drunk driver.
Think Progress, “The Surprising Issue That May Be Holding Back Effective Drunk Driving Laws,” Sy Mukherjee, March 24, 2014.
bts.dot.gov, “Drunk Driving by the Numbers,” accessed Feb. 19, 2017
cdc.gov, “Impaired Driving: Get the Facts,” Jan. 13, 2015