About three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.
Every injury, accident, and death caused by drunk driving is completely preventable. Although the number of crashes that are alcohol related have decreased in the past decade, there are still far too many of these preventable accidents occurring. Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and injure someone every two minutes (NHTSA 2006).
As a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises, so does the risk of being involved in a crash.
- 0.05 = double the risk.
- 0.08 = 7 times the risk.
- 0.15 = 25 times the risk.
GETTING HOME SAFELY
If you are planning to drink, then plan NOT to drive. Plan ahead and arrange overnight accommodation or alternative transport:
- Share a taxi with friends.
- Catch public transport.
- Ride with a driver who hasn’t been drinking or taking drugs.
- Arrange for a friend or relative to give you a lift.
- Use a campus or community designated driver program.
Impairment Begins before you are Legally Drunk
Research shows that impairment begins long before a person reaches the blood alcohol concentration level necessary to be guilty of drunken driving.
.02 BAC Level:
- Exhibit some loss of judgment.
- Begin to relax and feel good.
- Experience a decline in visual functions, affecting their ability to track a moving object.
- Experience a decline in the ability to perform two tasks at the same time.
These changes may be very subtle and barely noticable to the person who has had only one drink, but in an emergency situation while behind the wheel of a vehicle, they could cause the driver to react (or not react) as they would without having had a drink.
.05 BAC Level:
- People begin to exhibit exaggerated behavior.
- Experience loss of small-muscle control such as being able to focus their eyes quickly.
- Have impaired judgment, lowered alertness, and release of inhibition.
If someone with a BAC level of .05 gets behind the wheel, they would be operating the vehicle with reduce coordination, a further diminished ability to track moving objects, more difficulty in steering and a markedly reduced response in emergency situations.
.08 BAC Level:
- Has poor muscle coordination - affecting their balance, speech, vision, reaction time and hearing.
- Find it more difficult to detect danger.
- Exhibit impaired judgment self-control, reasoning ability and memory.
A driver with a BAC of .08 will find it more difficult to concentrate, judge the speed of the vehicle, experience reduced information processing capability and exhibit impaired perception. Drivers are so impaired that they are 11 times more likely to have a single vehicle crash than drivers with no alcohol in their system.
Once alcohol has been consumed its effects on driving cannot be reversed. Getting your BAC back to zero takes time and no amount of coffee, food, physical activity or sleep will speed up the process. The only thing that will sober you up once you have stopped drinking alcohol is time.
Have you said this before?
“I drink all the time - I know my limits, and I can handle my booze!”
DON’T KID YOURSELF.
Alcohol affects people in different ways and it’s impossible for you to judge your limit. There are many factors that will affect how quickly you reach the limit, such as age, sex, weight, whether you’ve just eaten, and the type of drink you are drinking. Fizzy drinks (carbonated ones like beer or drinks mixed with soda) pass into the bloodstream more quickly.
“I’ll drive... I’ve only had a couple.”
Even a single drink will affect your driving performance. Just “a couple of drinks” could put you over the legal limit. At twice the legal limit, you’re at least fifty times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident.
“I haven’t had a drink for an hour or so - I’ll be okay to drive by now."
DON’T RISK IT.
The body burns up alcohol very slowly. It takes at least eight hours to get rid of the alcohol from four pints of beer. After a night’s drinking you could still be over the limit when you drive to work in the morning!
“I’m always sensible and keep an eye on what I drink.”
DON’T CHANCE IT IF YOU’RE DRIVING.
It’s particularly difficult to accurately estimate how much you’re drinking at a raging party, or even at a friend’s house. Watch out for “heavy handed” hosts who make the drinks extra strong or king-sized.