Chapter 8

Statistics often substantiate causation better than anything else. Driving statistics show the devastating effects alcohol has on a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle. The following statistics are consistent from year to year and decade to decade:

A. There is a DUI arrest rate of one in every 139 licensed drivers in the U.S.

B. Approximately 300,000 people are seriously injured annually in alcohol-related accidents.

C. Over one-half of the people killed in alcohol-related accidents are drinking drivers, 20% passengers in the vehicle, and 17% occupants of other vehicles or pedestrians.

D. Over 90% of drinking drivers attending alcohol treatment centers (i.e., AA) return within three years, indicating another DUI arrest.

E. Between midnight and 4 a.m., approximately 80% of all fatally injured drivers have been drinking.

F. Roughly 40% of drivers on the road after midnight on the weekends are over the .08% DUI level.

G. The leading cause of death among teenagers is alcohol-related vehicle accidents. Drivers under 18 yrs. old have a risk of being involved in a fatal accident that is 2½ times greater than the average driver.

H. It has been estimated that a person arrested for his or her first DUI has been driving on the roads between 200-1200 times while intoxicated, without being arrested for DUI.

I. Approximately 25% of every dollar spent on automobile insurance premium is allocated towards drunk driving-related damages.

J. Three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related accident at some point in their lives.

K. In 2005, there were 1,729 traffic-related deaths in Georgia, and 545 were alcohol-related.

L. The annual costs of alcohol-related crashes in the state of Georgia are $2,500,000,000.

M. The most frequently committed violent crime in the United States is driving under the influence of alcohol, with more than 1.4 million arrests annually.

N. Nationwide in 2005, there were 325 alcohol-related fatalities per week, 46 per day and 2 per hour.

O. A driver with a BAC level of .15% or higher is 300 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision.

P. Each year, one percent of all licensed drivers are arrested for driving under the influence; this is more than any other crime.

Q. Drivers with a BAC level of .15% or higher account for nearly 2/3 of all alcohol-related fatalities.

R. Each day, eight people under the age of 21 die in an alcohol-related collision.

S. Drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 make up 6.4% of the total driving population, but they account for over 13% of the drivers in alcohol-related fatalities.

T. College students spend $5.5 billion, each year, on alcohol. Students typically spend more money each year on alcohol than they do at the college bookstore.

U. It is estimated that one out of every 280 babies born today will die in an alcohol-related crash.

V. The major cause of death for children 0 to 14 years of age is traffic collisions; of these collisions, 21% are alcohol-related.

Positive Statistics

A. According to research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 24,560 lives were saved between 1975 and 2005 due to minimum drinking age laws.

B. In 1982, 25,170 alcohol-related traffic fatalities occurred, making up 57.3% of all traffic fatalities. In 1998, alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the United States reached an all-time record low of 15,935, or 38.4%. In 2005, the figures were 16,885 alcohol-related fatalities, or 40% of all traffic fatalities, which still represented a decline from the 1982 figures.

C. From 1982 to 1999, the number of young drivers that died in an alcohol-related traffic crash where another young driver was involved decreased 62%.

D. Due to new minimum drinking age laws, lower BAC laws, and groups such as MADD and SADD, countless lives are being saved each year. By educating our children on the dangers of drinking and driving, we should be able to lower these numbers even more.

2004 Holiday Statistics

A. During the New Year's Day holiday, 452 people died in traffic-related collisions. Of those 452 people, 227, or 50.2%, were alcohol-related.

B. On Memorial Day Weekend, 358 people died in traffic-related collisions. Of those 358 people, 174, or 48.6%, were alcohol-related.

C. On the Fourth of July Weekend, 361 people died in traffic-related collisions. Of those 361 people, 177, or 49.0%, were alcohol-related.

D. On Halloween Weekend, 239 people died in traffic-related collisions. Of those 239 people, 129, or 54.0%, were alcohol-related.

E. On Christmas Weekend, 310 people died in traffic-related collisions. Of those 310 people, 147, or 47.4%, were alcohol-related.

F. From Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve, 3,511 people died in traffic-related collisions. Of those 3,511 people, 1,316, or 37.5%, were alcohol-related.

There is a tendency for motorists to relax during the holidays. The mind is at ease, and thoughts are on upcoming festivities. The truth, however, as statistics show, is that holidays are the most dangerous times to be on the road. More people are drinking alcohol, more chaos associated with children in the vehicle exists, and the overall driving task is made more difficult.

Statistics don't lie...alcohol, motor vehicles, and people don't mix!

(Source of some statistical information derived from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD))

Signs of a DUI Driver

Alcohol often causes a person to drive abnormally on the road. Alcohol is a depressant that slows bodily functions. Reduced tension and lower inhibitions are common, causing the drinking driver to take risks he or she normally would not. Decision-making is also greatly altered, as clear and concise thought is difficult. In addition to breaking basic traffic laws, the impaired driver often exhibits the following driving behaviors and traits:

A. Speeding - Alcohol affects a person's ability to decide right from wrong and judge safety in general. Speed is often increased, and unsafe chances behind the wheel are often taken.

B. Driving Slowly - In a futile attempt to hide their intoxication, impaired drivers often drive substantially below the speed limit.

C. Weaving - The drinking driver loses focus on the road and may fall asleep or simply lose control of the vehicle. Coordination begins to deteriorate, with weaving the most obvious and common driving trait.

D. Lights - Alcohol adversely affects basic brain functions, such as memory. Turning on driving lights may be overlooked, resulting in a dangerous situation with a dark car on the road.

E. Windows - The drinking driver often believes cold air will keep him or her awake while driving. An open car window in cold weather late at night is often a sure sign that the driver is intoxicated.

F. Lane Straddling - Drinking drivers often use lane-dividing lines as guides to stay on the road. This is an obvious indication of an intoxicated driver, as focus is lost and every attempt is made to stay on the road.

G. Tailgating - Tailgating is a basic driving violation, but it is especially common with the drinking driver. Vision becomes impaired, depth is distorted, and the eyes react more slowly to lights.

H. Turning Difficulty - A drinking driver may signal to turn one way and then erratically turn the other way. It is very common for the impaired driver to make unusually wide or narrow turns. Motor skills are at extremely diminished levels.

Symptoms of intoxication that police officers are taught to look for:

Ways to Sober Up

There is no easy remedy for chronic or short-term abuse of alcohol. The only way to sober up is to allow the body time to absorb and dissipate alcohol in the system, a process called “Oxidation.” Food and coffee are often perceived as viable ways to dilute alcohol in the system, but they are misconceptions. Water consumed while drinking dilutes alcohol in the body and may lessen the effects on the brain, however, this does not reduce the BAC. Water cannot reverse the effects of hours of drinking. Oxidation occurs in the liver, and nothing can be done to either slow or speed up this process.

The Only Proven Solution: Sleep and Time - As a depressant, alcohol usually induces sleep. Sleep allows time for the body to absorb and dissipate the alcohol from the system. Time allows the body to absorb the alcohol. The body can only oxidize one ounce of alcohol per hour, meaning a .08% BAC would require at least eight hours to be fully absorbed by the body.

SUMMARY.... As of now, no one has discovered a quick way to extract alcohol from the body. Several problems occur when you consume too much alcohol. Alcohol concentrates in your inner ear and disturbs your sense of balance. Alcohol can trap needed nutrients and waste products in the liver, therefore inflaming the liver cells. Alcohol causes dehydration and interferes with a phase of deep sleep, causing you to have a poor night's rest. Traditional remedies do not work. Coffee may give you a caffeine boost, but will not ease the symptoms. Fruit juice may re-hydrate the body a bit, but it also may upset your stomach, as will aspirin. REST IS THE ONLY WAY TO REPAIR THE DAMAGE.

DUI Prevention Locally

Designated Driver Program - The designated driver program was developed to help deter drinking and driving while encouraging sober, designated drivers. One person in a group is discouraged from drinking alcoholic beverages and made responsible for the rest of the group. This person will drive the others home, ensuring that those who may be intoxicated and dangerous will not be on the roads.

Designated drivers often receive support from the establishments where they and their friends drink and eat, and sometimes they receive complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and food. Some of the requirements to participate as a designated driver include:

These programs have helped contribute to a decline over the last 10 years in DUI related deaths. Often, the drinker cannot consciously help him or herself and needs a friend to step forward. Designated Drivers Save Lives!

Other Drugs

A driver's use of drugs other than alcohol (cocaine, marijuana and some over-the-counter drugs, to name a few) can also create significant problems on the road. Any two or more drugs taken at the same time may cause a reaction called “Synergism.” This reaction sometimes results in enhanced effects of one or more of the drugs. The most dangerous combination of synergism is alcohol and drugs. If you combine any amount of alcohol and drugs that potentially affects your driving abilities, you are not only dangerous, but IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW.

A. Stimulants (Amphetamines) - These drugs cause heightened self-confidence, increased energy level and a reduction in appetite. They can cause nervousness, irritability and tension, which may cause a driver to overreact without following safe driving procedures.

B. Depressants (Barbiturates) - These drugs, also known as sedatives, may significantly impair a driver's thinking ability, decision-making capabilities and emotional control. A driver may be in a "daze" on the road, driving while the mind is slowed.

C. Marijuana - The influence of marijuana varies greatly in individuals, but it is known to slow reflexes and coordination, alter decision-making, and negatively affect reaction time.

D. Over-the-Counter Drugs - Over-the-counter drugs can cause reactions similar to many of the drugs listed above. Drivers may experience drowsiness, lack of attentiveness, confusion, loss of decision-making ability, and altered vision. Always read and follow the instructions and warning labels before taking any medication. READ ALL LABELS ON DRUG CONTAINERS.