According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), "A motor vehicle crash is considered to be alcohol-related if at least one driver or non-occupant (such as a pedestrian or bicyclist) involved in the crash is determined to have had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 gram per deciliter (g/dL) or higher.
Any fatality that occurs in an alcohol-related crash is considered an "alcohol-related fatality". The term "alcohol-related" does not indicate that a crash or fatality was caused by the presence of alcohol." It is important to note that people tend to think that alcohol-related crashes are caused by drunk drivers. But if a sober driver kills an alcohol-impaired pedestrian, it's also considered an alcohol-related crash. However, the statistics show that most fatal alcohol-related crashes do, in fact, involve drunk drivers and far fewer of these fatalities involve intoxicated pedestrians or cyclists.
Nationwide in 2005, alcohol was present in the systems of 24 percent of the drivers involved in fatal crashes (BAC .01-.07, 4 percent; BAC .08 or greater, 20 percent).
The 16,885 alcohol-related fatalities in 2005 (39% of total traffic fatalities for the year) represent a 5-percent reduction from the 17,732 alcohol related fatalities reported in 1995 (42% of the total).
The 16,885 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes during 2005 represent an average of one alcohol-related fatality every 31 minutes.
Of the 16,885 people who died in alcohol-related crashes in 2005, 14,539 (86%) were killed in crashes where at least one driver or nonoccupant had a BAC of .08 or higher.
The drunk-driving statistics show that traffic fatalities in alcohol-related crashes fell by 0.2 percent, from 16,919 in 2004 to 16,885 in 2005.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that alcohol was involved in 39 percent of fatal crashes and in 7 percent of all crashes in 2005.
An estimated 254,000 people were injured in crashes where the investigating officers reported the presence of alcohol. In 2005, 21 percent of the children age 14 and younger who were killed in motor vehicle crashes were killed in alcohol-related crashes.
In 2005, twenty-one percent of the fatalities among children age 14 and younger occurred in crashes involving alcohol. Of those, more than half were passengers in vehicles with drivers with a BAC levels of .01 or higher.
Forty-eight kids age 14 and younger who were killed in traffic crashes in 2005 were pedestrians or cyclists who were struck by drivers with a BAC .01 or higher.
Things get much worse after dark. The rate of alcohol-related fatal crashes is more than 3 times higher at night as during the day.
By far the largest group of drivers in fatal crashes who had BAC levels of .08 or higher were drivers ages 21 to 24 followed by the 25 to 34 age group.
Facts About Drunk Driving
First, in spite of increasing the number of anti-drunk driving laws and campaigns, the number of people who died in alcohol-related accidents went down by only .2% from 2004 to 2005 (16,919 in 2004 versus 16,885 in 2005). While every life saved is important, this decrease, from a statistical standpoint, however, was not significant. In other words, the fact that 34 fewer people died in alcohol-related accidents in 2005 than in 2004 could have happened totally by chance rather than because of stricter drunk driving laws or because of the influence of citizen activist groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD).
Repeat DUI Offenders
Second, even with the passing of stricter DUI laws and consequences, over 50% of US drivers arrested for drunk driving are repeat offenders. This statistic is disturbing when viewed on its own merits. What has also become newsworthy," however, is the number of repeat offenders who have received an outrageous number of DUIs.
For instance in early 2006, an Ohio man who received 12 DUIs within a ten-year period of time killed two Hiram college students in an alcohol-related accident. Not surprisingly, many people in the local community were outraged with the driver who accidentally killed the two college students.
What was perhaps more revealing in this case, however, was the number of phone calls made to the radio talk shows by people asking who the judges and prosecutors were and what the consequences were for this driver after he received his 3rd, his 8th, and his 11th DUIs. In other words, people starting asking the "tough questions" regarding the accountability of those who received multiple DUIs as well as the accountability of the judges and prosecutors who were involved in the repeat offenders’ legal proceedings.
Many Drivers with Suspended Licenses Still Drive
Third, 67% of US drivers with suspended licenses still drive. From a logical standpoint, many people must be asking themselves how this is possible in an age of technological advancement that features capabilities such as real-time" computer access to driver registration information that is available to the law enforcement community.
Drunk Driving Countermeasures
According to the authors of Drunk Driving," a number of countermeasures have been undertaken that have targeted alcohol-related fatalities on the US roads. For instance, existing drunk driving laws have become stricter, new laws have been passed, drunk driving task forces have been established by many states, and citizen activist groups such as MADD have influenced some of the attitudes toward drinking and driving in our society.
As noteworthy as these anti-drunk driving laws and campaigns have been, however, the fact remains that only 34 fewer people died in alcohol-related accidents in 2005 than in 2004. Obviously, other measures must be undertaken in order to significantly reduce the number of US people who die in alcohol-related traffic accidents.
Additional Anti-Drunk Driving Initiatives
In response to the need for more ammunition in the "war" on alcohol-related traffic accidents, I propose two additional anti-drunk driving initiatives. First, those who are incarcerated due to alcohol-related offenses need to receive mandatory alcoholism treatment while they are in jail or in prison. True, other drivers are safer when the offending persons are off the streets" and incarcerated. When the jail or prison sentence is completed, however, the vast majority of alcohol-related offenders will return to the "real world." Acknowledging this reality, I submit that alcohol-related offenders who have received alcoholism treatment while incarcerated are more likely to become responsible people who refrain from drinking while driving and less likely to become repeat DUI offenders once they return to society.
Second, significant and observable changes in our attitudes about drinking alcohol need to take place in our society. Due to the fact that drinking alcohol is so accessible, acceptable, and intimately ingrained in our society, however, it has been extremely difficult for many individuals, especially the youth, to truly understand the destructive, unhealthy, and fatal aspects of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. This needs to change.
Our Enlightened and Aware Society
Our society has become more enlightened and more aware of the health hazards, fatalities, and destructive consequences of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. It is therefore time for us to balance the prevailing marketing message" with a more realistic and healthy perspective regarding alcohol consumption. Stated differently, drinking alcohol needs to be less advertised, less glamorized, and seen as less cool" while the commercials, advertisements, and public service messages that emphasize healthy, safe, and alcohol-free activities and lifestyles need to be increased.
Obviously, something besides our current anti-drunk driving laws and campaigns needs to be done in order to significantly decrease the alcohol-related fatalities on our highways. I assert that mandatory alcoholism treatment for people who are incarcerated for alcohol-related offenses and noticeable and significant changes in our attitudes toward drinking alcohol are important factors that will help contribute to the significant reduction in the number of people in our society who die in alcohol-related traffic accidents every year.
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Christopher Davis has sinced written about articles on various topics from . Christopher M. Davis is the managing partner of Davis Law Group. He brings over 15 years of practical yet innovative experience to personal injury cases. He practices law in Seattle, WA. You can learn more about Mr. Davis at. Christopher Davis's top article . Bookmark Christopher Davis to your Favourites.
Denny Soinski has sinced written about articles on various topics from . Denny Soinski, Ph.D, writes about alcohol abuse, alcohol addiction, alcohol testing, alcoholism, alcohol recovery, alcohol treatment, and alcohol rehab. For more information, please visit. Denny Soinski's top article . Bookmark Denny Soinski to your Favourites.
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