Despite the fact that drunken driving remains the primary threat to American people on the roads, it is probably on the decrease.
Drunk driving is one of the causes of untimely deaths in the USA. The percentage of fatalities due to drunk driving is still high. The American people and the government have put numerous measures to reduce drunk driving on the roads. The impacts of these efforts are appreciable.
According to the US Department of Transportation, drunk driving constitutes DUI (Driving under Influence), driving while impaired (DWI), or operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). The police officer may give this judgment depending on observations of such things as slurred speech, roadside sobriety test and driving behavior among others. The Department further defines drunk driving as driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.008g/dL or more than that. The Department also considers any driver, who reaches or exceeds this limit to alcohol impaired.
Alcohol intoxicated driving is one of the most frequently committed crimes in the USA. According to CDC, drunk driving kills one person every 40 minutes and injures one person every minute. In 2007 alone, about 13,000 deaths occurred in the country due to the crime. The federal government reports that nearly half a million Americans get injured in car crashes involving alcohol intoxication.
The statistics also show that fatalities from drunken driving accidents continue to account for one out three deaths on American roadways every year. In the last three decades, drunk driving received much attention from the government. Through the 1990, the federal and state governments formulated many laws and penalties against drunk driving. The governments formed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Under traffic laws, the police have the mandate to carry out sobriety checkpoint and arrest any drunk driver. The police can suspend the driver’s license or restrict the areas of driving.
There are many measures that the Department of Transportation has put to control drunk driving. These measures prove to be effective in the US roads. Most of them have prevented alcohol related deaths and injuries. The measures include use of sobriety checkpoints on the road blocks. In such points, the police observe any behavior that may indicate that the driver is drunk. The Utilization of DUI laws or driving under influence coupled these efforts. All fifty states have outlawed driving with BAC of 0.08. Significantly, the government enacted zero tolerance laws, which criminalized driving a vehicle with 0.02% BAC for all drivers under 21. Multiple research on effectiveness of interlocks for first-time and repeat DUI offenders show that interlocks decrease repeat drunk driving offenses by about 64 percent (Willis, Lybrand & Bellamy, 2005).
Recently, the US Department of Transportation reported strict measures including nationwide crackdown on the US roads. Ray LaHood, the US Transportation Secretary, said that the Department stepped up its effort to remove drunk drivers on the road, especially during the holiday seasons. Among other efforts, the Department adds that education of drivers and public and the enforcement efforts also contribute to measures of reducing drunk driving on the road. The recent Department’s move of “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign involved thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country. This $7 million campaign aimed to raise awareness of safety law-enforcement activities in all 50 states (Department of Transportation, 2011). The Department conveyed the message that police officers were vigilant in deterring drunk drivers.
The US community and education institutions have also augmented the fight against drunk driving in the country. Many community-based advocates, such as the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Students Against Destructive Decisions (MADD), added pressure against the vice. Educational programs on prevention of drunk driving improved smart decision making and responsible behaviors among drivers.
The US NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2011) reported a significant decline in the cases of drunk driving in the country. According to a recent federal report, incidents of drunk driving have fallen by 30 percent in the last six years and were at their lowest mark in nearly two decades. In 1982, alcohol-related fatalities on the road were 60 percent of all fatalities. In 1992, the fatalities dropped to 47 percent and 41 percent ten years later. In 2009, drivers who exceeded the BAC limits were responsible for 10,839 fatalities, which was 32 percent of the total road fatalities. This was a 7.4 percent reduction from the previous year, which recorded 11,711 fatalities (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2011).
The reduction in drunk driving will reduce pressure on the economy. Recent research points out that alcohol-related accidents cost the public an approximated $114.3 billion every year. This is including $63.2 billion reduction of quality of life because such incidents. The social costs of alcohol-related vehicle accidents average $1.00 per bottle consumed. People pay an average of $0.60 per drink.
The above statistics clearly indicate that while drunk driving remains the main threat to American people on the roads, there is much progress. Increasing the level of law enforcement on the American roads will boost the existing measures. The number of arrests of drunk drivers is remarkably low compared to the number of fatalities. More arrests and complete suspension of the license will keep 50 to 75 percent of drivers, who continue to drive despite suspension.
It is evident from the data on drunk driving that, despite the fact that drunk driving remains the main threat to American people on American roads, it is probably on the decrease. Many measures were put to reduce the vice. All Americans need to understand that drunk driving is not only a threat to human lives, but it is also unlawful and uneconomical.