There are more than 17,000 fatal crashes involving drunk drivers each year. Most of these crashes occur during the night or in poor visibility. Repeat offenders are also more likely to be involved in fatal crashes. Read on to learn more about the effects of alcohol on driving. And get the facts about alcohol on motorcycle riders.
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Drunk driving is a serious problem that leads to thousands of fatalities every year. In the United States alone, more than 17,000 people are killed each year in traffic accidents related to alcohol. Those who are drunker than the legal limit are twice as likely to get in an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving causes about 30% of all traffic deaths each year. Moreover, drunk driving crashes are twice as likely to kill young people and motorcycle riders. Regardless of where you live, drinking and driving is not a good idea.
In 2011, more than a third of fatal alcohol-related crashes involved drivers under the age of twenty-five. And 72% of these crashes involved men. Sadly, most of these accidents took place at night or on weekends. In Pennsylvania, there were approximately 34 alcohol-related crashes every day, resulting in about 26 deaths. The number of people killed by drunk drivers is disproportionately higher on Fridays and Saturdays, and the risk increases dramatically for those under age 21.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more fatal car crashes occur during the dark, compared to the daylight. Nighttime crashes are especially dangerous, as the general environment is less visible and other road users are harder to see. Poor roadway lighting also contributes to high numbers of fatal crashes.
Nighttime crashes are also more likely to involve alcohol-impaired drivers. A 2009 study showed that two-thirds of all fatal crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers occurred between midnight and 3 a.m. The report also found that other hours are high for alcohol-impaired driving, with crashes occurring between 6 p.m. and midnight.
Those with a history of drunk driving arrests and convictions are particularly at risk for fatal crashes. A recent study found that repeat offenders are nearly four times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers without prior convictions. Repeat offenders are also more likely to be male and drive older vehicles, wear fewer seat belts, and drive in rural areas.
Those who have a history of drunk driving offenses face stricter penalties than first-time offenders. The state of California has implemented a “Zero Tolerance” law that imposes greater punishments for repeat offenders.
One of the most significant effects of alcohol on driving is its impairment of motor skills. Drivers with impaired motor skills are more prone to crashes. Impairment of concentration, hand/eye coordination, and reflexes also make driving hazardous. Alcohol impairs these abilities and slows the response time to changing situations.
Studies have demonstrated that drinking alcohol impairs several aspects of driving, including braking time and the ability to detect road hazards. These effects are present even when the BAC is below the legal limit of 0.08%. Alcohol has also been linked to traits such as impulsivity, which are associated with risky driving.
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