We are entering the holiday season. With the season comes parties and the drinking of alcohol. With an increase in drinking alcohol comes an increase in DRUNK DRIVING. Speaking as one who survived a horrific head-on crash with a drunk driver, I may honestly say that drunk driving is NOT a victimless crime. Often, as in my case, the mental and physical injuries last long after the car has been scrapped. To this day, after over 30 years, I still have nightmares, agonizing arthritis, and a severely restricted range of motion in my right arm. The accident had an impact on every aspect of my life; athletics, academics, and my walk with God.
According to government statistics, Alcohol is a leading cause of traffic fatalities. Drinking and driving kills 28 people a day in the U.S. — about one person every 52 minutes — according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That is more than 10,000 lives lost each year to drunk driving. A driver is considered legally impaired when their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) measures 0.08 or higher. The number of drinks it takes to reach this BAC largely depends on gender and weight, but the average is 2-3 drinks of standard pours for adults.
Alcohol severely hampers a driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, impairing judgment and slowing reaction time. The consequences can be deadly, which is why it is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
Here’s a roundup of statistics about drunk driving:
- About one-third of car crash fatalities in the U.S. involve drunk drivers, according to the NHTSA.
- The yearly cost of alcohol-related car crashes is more than $44 billion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Alcohol-impaired drivers got behind the wheel of a car about 147 million times in 2018, according to the CDC.
In 2017, 32% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes while driving at night were drunk, according to the latest data from NHTSA.
- Almost twice as many alcohol-related and fatal car crashes occur during the weekend, according to NHTSA.
- In 2017, there were four male, alcohol-impaired drivers for every one female alcohol-impaired driver out on the road, says NHTSA.
- In 2019, there were 50,930 drivers in fatal car crashes, and an estimated 19% of the drivers were alcohol-impaired, according to NHTSA
The percentages of alcohol-impaired drivers who were in fatal car crashes ranged from 11% in Utah to 34% in Rhode Island.
- About 6% of teens surveyed in the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey said they drove while drinking within the past 30 days. That included 7% of males. Nearly 17% of teens surveyed admitted to driving in a car while a driver who had been drinking.
In 2018, 29% of all traffic fatalities were alcohol-impaired crashes, according to the NHTSA.
- Covid didn’t reduce alcohol-related traffic accidents despite less traffic on the road. Police reported alcohol involvement in 9% of crashes, according to an NHTSA analysis of the 2020 traffic statistics.
- About 27% of drivers were involved in alcohol-related serious or fatal crashes from March 17, 2020, through Sep. 30, 2020, compared to 21% from Sep. 10, 2019, through March 16, 2020, according to the NHTSA.
The legal limit of alcohol levels permissible for driving a car in the United States is 0.08% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). If your BAC is equal to or more than this, legally, you are considered drunk. A drunk driver can be expected to exhibit some impairment in reaction time, motor skills, and judgment when driving. Driver with a .10 % blood alcohol level are 7 times more likely to be involved with a fatal accident than sober drivers. A personal note; the man who crashed into me has a .319 blood alcohol level.
Alcohol is a poison. The Bible is filled with injunctions against getting drunk. Perhaps, St. Paul gives us a lesson that can apply to drunkenness; Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body. (1Corinthians 6:19-20). It seems we only disgrace this gift from God when we pollute it with alcohol. The great, late, comedian and clown, Red Skelton, said, our gifts are what God gives to us, what we do with them is our gift back to God.