You Drink & Drive, You Lose
Driving Home the Facts about Impaired Driving
Impaired driving is an issue at the forefront of Americas public safety agenda, but has faded in visibility over the past few years. Public apathy and confusion over what constitutes impaired driving have contributed to the existing gap between the public perception that impaired driving is no longer a problem. The tragic reality is that nearly 16,000 lives were lost as a result of impaired driving in 1998, the last year of compiled national statistics.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and its partners have set a goal to reduce the annual number of fatalities attributed to impaired driving to no more than 11,000 by the year 2005. Achieving this goal will reduce deaths caused by drinking and driving by approximately 5,000 each year, saving an average of 14 lives every day.
Impaired driving costs Americans millions of dollars each year in lost time, lost property and lost lives.
In 1998, 15,935 fatalities and 305,000 injuries were related to impaired driving, accounting for one fatality nearly every 33 minutes and one injury every two minutes. Additionally, traffic-related crashes annually result in more than $45 billion in economic costs.
Alcohol remains a significant contributing factor in fatal crashes.
The severity of a motor vehicle crash increases when the driver is impaired. Individuals who drive while impaired are more likely to drive recklessly and become involved in fatal crashes. Plus, impaired drivers are less likely to use seatbelts, thereby increasing their own risk for serious injury in a crash.
The majority of those who drive impaired are likely to repeat the behavior.
In 1997, there were nearly 1.5 million arrests for driving while intoxicated. In states with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of at least 0.10, fatally injured drivers were more likely to have prior convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol. Hard core drunk drivers account for only one percent of all drivers on the road at night and on weekends, while representing nearly half of all fatal crashes at that time.
Only 17 states and the District of Columbia have set the legal BAC limit at .08. However, studies show that the relative risk of being killed in a single vehicle crash for drivers with a BAC level between .05 and .09 is 11 times that of drivers with .00 BAC level. At the .08 level, all drivers, even experienced ones, show impairment in driving ability. As BAC increases, the degree of impairment also rises dramatically.