The problem of drinking and driving has been around for decades and to this day remains to be one of the leading causes of deaths and injuries around the world. (CDC) “In 1910, New York was the first state to adopt a law against drinking and driving, with California and other states soon following” (LifeSafer). As early as in the year 1910 driving under the influence was already recognized as a threat to society leading to laws being placed against doing so across the United States. In recent times, there are several ways that could help reduce the issue of drinking and driving such as through being prepared for a night out of drinking or maybe even raising the penalties received from prosecution. Drinking and driving is an ongoing issue that causes many fatalities which could have all been prevented.
When people drink and drive it can lead to innocent people and families to be harmed or even killed. While under the influence of alcohol the ability to drive is greatly impaired and can lead to more than just the driver being injured. Some abilities that are impaired that are needed for safe driving can include, “reduced peripheral vision, poorer recovery from glare, poor performance in a complex visual tracking, and reduced divided attention performance” (NIH). These are just some of the many abilities that are needed for driving that are affected from drinking alcohol which can lead to a great risk of getting into a car accident. These accidents not only can affect the victim but their families as well. Families and friends of the victims of alcohol related accidents can be left with their child, sibling, or friend permanently injured or worse. An event like this can affect a family or victim financially, mentally, physically and emotionally. The victim and their families could end up having to pay a lot of money towards hospital bills, rehabilitation costs, or even towards a funeral. Funerals can be fairly costly as well whereas an average traditional funeral these days is about $7,000 – $10,000 (ScienceCare). These car accidents could leave the victims mentally and physically damaged whether it be that the victim could potentially receive a life changing injury such as paralysis or even receiving some form of mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Although the focus of accidents caused by drunk driving is most often aimed towards the victims of these tragedies it can also be beneficial to look at the drunk drivers themselves so that in the future some of these tragedies may be prevented. Drinking and driving can also leave the suspect with financial, mental, emotional, and physical problems as well. When someone is caught driving drunk it is possible that they will be charged a fine and receive jail time if they receive the maximum penalties. Some of these maximum penalties can include “a $1,000 fine plus over $2,600 in penalty assessments, six months imprisonment in the county jail, a six-month license suspension; ten months for blood alcohol level of 0.15% or more, having your vehicle impounded for 30 days” (DrivingLaws). If the driver has a blood alcohol content level of 0.08% or higher and causes an accident where someone is killed they can receive much harsher charges. “The driver can be found guilty of a felony and could go to state prison for over a year, and possibly for up to five years, depending on whether it’s the driver’s first, second, or third offense” (DrivingLaws). If the drunk driver receives a felony there is fairly good chance they are going to lose their job which can lead to a great financial hardship. If they lose their job there is also a good chance that it will be very difficult to get another job later on considering most employers would rather hire someone else who does not have a felony on their record. There is also a high chance that when the accident occurs the drunk driver could be greatly injured or have their own life taken as well. All of these misfortunes often lead to mental issues as well whether it be that the person could get very depressed when they realize what they have caused or many of these drivers can get post-traumatic stress disorder from the car accident (NIH).
Another often overlooked factor that is affected due to drunk driving is the affect it can have towards society. Car accidents caused from drunk driving alone costs the nation an enormous amount of money yearly. An example that shows this is, “Crashes caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol accounted for 18 percent of the total economic loss due to motor vehicle crashes and cost the nation $49 billion, an average cost of $158 for every person in the U.S.” (NHTSA.) The accidents are clearly very costly and overall are taking away a huge amount of time and money away from society. In this example you can see how much drinking and driving is to blame for motor vehicle crashes in general, “these crashes were responsible for $199 billion or 23 percent of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes” (NHSTA). Drunk driving accidents take away from society in more ways than just by financially speaking, it also affects society through the countless amount of irreplaceable human life that is taken away as well.
When it comes to solutions there are many different ways that could help to prevent driving under the influence of alcohol. It can also be beneficial to look at why drinking and driving happens in the first place as solutions can sometimes tie back to the cause of this ordeal. One reason drinking and driving occurs can be traced from people who have Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), people with this issue go out drinking much more frequently and tend to try to take transportation in their own hands by driving themselves home or to a different location. Although many other people even without AUD who drink alcohol think this way as well and will make efforts to try to drive themselves home instead of choosing a safer option of transportation. There is a large amount of people who suffer from AUD as shown in the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s article which states that “An estimated 16 million people in the United States have AUD” (NIH). With this many people that deal with this disorder it is still only one part of the people who can drink and drive. Another large group of people who drink and drive are underaged drinkers. A large amount of the underaged people who drink will try to hide the fact that they are breaking the law so they usually will try there best to drive home on their own without making a scene but this is usually when many of the alcohol related accidents can occur. “Nearly one million high school teens drank alcohol and got behind the wheel in 2011. Teen drivers are 3 times more likely than more experienced drivers to be in a fatal crash” (CDC). This quote from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows how many underage drinkers are people still young enough to be in high school and with their experience level of driving being much lower it only raises the risk of causing a fatal accident whether it be from crashing their car, crashing into someone else’s car or even hitting pedestrians.
One of the many solutions could be to simply increase awareness among communities through school systems or other public safety announcements. Doing this more often will increase societies knowledge on this topic and show how dangerous drinking and driving truly is. Another point that would be made more known through doing this would be the punishments that can be served when prosecuted for driving under the influence of alcohol. Also, parents, guardians, or other influential figures should express to their children the importance of being safe when going out to drink alcohol. Parents could make this point clear to their children at any age and especially when their child turns the legal drinking age.
The first main solution that would be very beneficial to practice for anyone and everyone who is planning to go out to drink alcohol is to be prepared. If someone knows they will be out drinking they should think ahead and take some of their time to make sure that they will have a safe way to get home. It can be fairly easy to find someone who can pick you up after and be your designated driver. Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure your designated driver is not consuming any alcohol as well, you should choose someone who you know to be reliable or someone who does not drink alcohol at all. If people who drink did this step first before drinking it could have prevented many lives from being taken just by taking some simple precautionary measures before leaving your house.
Another solution that could definitely help to reduce the amount of people who drink and drive is to use some form of public transportation instead of driving yourself. One way that has been shown to enforce this solution is to leave your car at home before you even go out so you will need to call some form of transportation to pick you up after (NSW). Some options available for public transportation could be a taxi, Uber, or a Lyft. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also has a mobile app that would be very beneficial for people who drink to have. The app is free to use and can easily be downloaded by searching for the app called “SaferRide” (NHTSA). The SaferRide app can help you to identify your location, to call a friend, or to call for a taxi. These were only some of the many public transportation options available to use and there are many more that people can use even taking a bus is a much safer option than driving while under the influence of alcohol.
The last major solution that can help to decrease drinking and driving is to increase the penalties that are received when prosecuted for drinking and driving. Raising penalties would make people who drink and drive think harder and question themselves more about whether or not it is worth it to attempt to drive home on their own after drinking. One penalty that could be raised is the fine they receive, even if it is only $100 higher that could still potentially deter even a few people away from driving while under the influence. Another penalty that could be raised is license suspension. Everyone who has their license and drives more than likely wants or needs to continue to drive in order to get from place to place. If that right is threatened more heavily as a penalty from receiving a DUI that will definitely deter many people from drinking and driving. The legal blood alcohol content limit for a DUI is currently at 0.08% but if lowering that even slightly to 0.07% would still increase the risk of arrest. Doing this would also make it easier to receive penalties which would more than likely cause some people to stay away from drinking and driving. Olson S, Gerstein states in his book “Alcohol in America: Taking Action to Prevent Abuse” that “the overall conclusion that can be drawn from the various drunk driving studies is that an increased risk of arrest does deter drunk driving.”
In the end, while drinking and driving continues to be an issue there is still hope for improvement. In recent times drinking and driving has been slightly improving mostly caused by the laws that were placed in more recent years. Hopefully over time more action can be set towards the dilemma of driving under the influence. Even some small changes can help such as by simply raising the awareness of this issue or from a person being responsible and thinking of their own safety and others as well by choosing to drink alcohol responsibly.
Works Cited/Annotated Bibliography
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vital Signs: Teen Drinking and Driving. October 2, 2012. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/teendrinkinganddriving/index.html
I used this as a source because it was written by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This article gave me great information on teenage underage drinking and how teens are more likely to be involved in an accident involving a fatality due to their lack of driving experience added on to them being under the influence of alcohol.
Driving Laws, California DUI: What are the Penalties? http://dui.drivinglaws.org/resources/dui-laws-state/penalties-dui-california.htm
I used this as a source even though it was not posted on a website that is considered scholarly because it gave me vey good information on the penalties the can be received when faced with charges due to drinking and driving.
European Addiction Research, Mental Disorders Associated with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and/or drugs: A Register-Based Study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23147745
I used this source because the European Addiction Research facility is a reliable source and it gave me information about some mental disorders. It shows how some people can get mental illnesses such as PTSD or other illnesses.
LifeSafer, The History of Drunk Driving Laws in the U.S. January 22, 2013 https://www.lifesafer.com/blog/the-history-of-drunk-driving-laws-in-the-u-s/
I used this as a source even though it was not a scholarly source because it gave good information on when the first law against drinking and driving was set.
LifeSafer, The Real Cost of Drunk Driving. Decmber 10, 2017 https://www.lifesafer.com/blog/real-cost-drunk-driving/
I chose to use this article even though it was not posted on a scholarly website because it gave good information on the costs drinking and driving can cause and how drinking and driving can affect society.
NHTSA, Drunk Driving. December 7, 2017 https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving
I used this article because it was posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This source gave me good information on how alcohol affects driving abilities and the consequences for driving while drunk. I also found information on their app SafeRide on this article.
NHTSA, New NHTSA Study Shows Motor Vehicle Crashes Have $871 Billion Economic and Societal Impact on U.S. Citizens. December 14, 2016 https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/new-nhtsa-study-shows-motor-vehicle-crashes-have-871-billion-economic-and-societal
I used this article because it was posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This source was useful to me because it gave me information on how drinking and driving affects society and the costs drinking and driving can have.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Epidemiology and Consequences of Drinking and Driving. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-1/63-78.htm
I chose to use this article because it was written by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. This article gave me good information on affects that happen to your driving abilities while under the influence of alcohol.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Alcohol Use Disorder. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders
I used this article because it was written by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. This source gave me information on what Alcohol Use Disorder was and how that illness affects people.
NSW Centre for Road Safety, Getting Home Safely. December 5, 2014. http://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/stayingsafe/alcoholdrugs/gettinghome.html
I used this source because it was written for the NSW Centre for Road Safety and was a credible source. This article helped me to include the idea of leaving your car at home to prevent yourself from drinking and driving.
Olson S, Gerstain DR. Preventing Drunk Driving, Alcohol in America: Taking Action to Prevent Abuse. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK217455/
I used this source because it was written by someone who is very knowledgeable on this subject who is also a doctor. I also used this as a source because it backed up my statement about how raising penalties on DUI’s can reduce the amount of drinking and driving.
Science Care, 4 Ways to Get Help Paying for Funeral Expenses. December 22, 2015 http://www.sciencecare.com/blog-4-ways-to-get-help-paying-for-funeral-expenses/
I used this for a source even though it was not scholarly because it gave an average for how much funerals can cost.