It is often common to hear in the news regarding incidents of motorcycle and vehicular accidents due to drunk driving. Some of the suspected motorists would often deny such allegations even if the police would already notice signs of being under the influence of alcohol, blaming the other party for the accident. In some cases, the motorists would even deny being under the influence of alcohol, while a few would visibly display the signs of being sober and smell drunk. No one is exempted to this trend when it comes to drivers drunk driving, may one would be a simple citizen or an artist or politician; cases being filed accordingly to prevent them again from drunk driving. However, despite the warnings about drunk driving and the accidents that prove its dangers, the prevalence rate increases. Drunk driving, if not immediately remedied by the government with stricter policies and guidelines to punish and educate drivers about the hazards of drunk driving, it is likely that drunk driving related cases would consistently increase and kill more innocent passengers and drivers all due to being under the influence of alcohol.
In the assessment of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 30 people in the US die due to motor vehicle accidents due to the driver being alcohol-impaired or under the influence of substance: One death happens every 48 minutes with almost $51 billion worth of damages and losses per year. Nonetheless, the statistics showcase that the numbers of alcohol-impaired driving accidents and deaths continue to increase each year. In 2010 alone, almost 10,228 deaths have been recorded throughout the country, making it the major cause for traffic related incidents throughout the country. Almost 1,210 traffic deaths due to drunk driving have been children ages 0 to 14 while 211 of these deaths were children ages 14 and younger were due to alcohol-impaired drivers. In the same year, almost 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of substances, most specifically alcohol. However, the estimates of those caught for driving under the influence is not as accurate given the 112 million self-reported incidents of US adults driving under the influence of alcohol each year . With the statistics presented by the CDC and the growing rate of people trying to hide the instances of drivers driving under the influence of drunk driving throughout the country, it shows that there are some problems with the government’s action to end drunk driving.
The history of drunk driving in the United States could be traced back in the 1900s when the first automobile is introduced in the country by the Europeans. Notably, it was not regulated by the government as it was only available for the rich and eccentric. As years progressed, it became a new business opportunity for many companies who had the capacity to create and design their own automobiles. With cars becoming a commodity, the government had slowly tried to come up with ways to tax the car owners for using such machines. In 1917, the Division of Automobile Licensing and Registration of South Carolina was created to issue licenses and collect usage taxes to car owners. However, it is visible that it still did not have a framework for vehicle laws. Slowly, prohibition slowly became a topic in America by the 1920s as the Volstead Act was signed, however, it lead to the growth of organized crime in the country. In Alaska, they enacted “Bone Dry” law, which prohibited alcohol throughout the region. However, similar to other parts of the country, businesses and suppliers crafted several tunnels and networks to supply alcohol as they did not need to worry about them being caught by the police for driving while drunk since there was no law against it. However, by the mid-1930s, automobile regulations, especially for drunk driving, had grew significantly. Indiana made the first move by issuing driver’s licenses in 1935, however, it still did not test the drivers and allowed them to purchase their licenses for 50 cents. Four years later, it had enacted the Blood Alcohol Content Act to determine if a driver is drunk for more than .15 BAC level. In the 1960s, the importance of creating laws for Driving Under Influence called immediate attention as known alcoholic Teddy Kennedy (1932-2009) had drove off his car off Dike Bridge with Mary Jo Kopechne, who died when the car was trapped under water. Kennedy had managed to escape and waited for a few hours before he called the authorities and be sober. By the 1980s, drunk driving became the target of several government actions such as MADD or the organization known as Mothers against Drunk Driving. Ignition interlock devises appeared in the 1980s and four years later, the national drinking age was set to 21 years old. Several accidents involving drunk drivers had also helped the American action against drunk driving such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, which was caused by a collision against Bligh Reef by alcoholic and ship master Joseph Hazelwood. The collision caused 11 million gallons of crude oil to sill throughout the area. As of the 1990s, the US states had begun setting the legal BAC level to .08 with some states adopting higher BAC levels. However, by July 2004, each US State adhered to the .08 BAC standard set by the federal government .
While the dangers of drunk driving in the country are discussed with the public, there are still people who would drive while drunk despite these risks. Experts attribute that people would still drunk despite the risks because it’s a social lubricant, a means for them to relax and feel more at ease with mingling with others. Others would even consider alcohol as a means of anesthetic, removing their pain and suffering from daily life. Excessive drinkers would continue their drinking because it provides “buzz” in drowning the world around them and even feel empowered by it. Some would drink because it would allow them to sleep or tranquilize them from pain. However, mostly, it is reported that people would drink to drown their grief, anxiety and depression; often causing them to continuously drink, becoming alcoholics. There would be a few people who could tolerate large alcohol consumption without becoming truly affected by the drink, however, experts believe that even if they look sober, their driving is affected gradually . If a driver handles the wheel while under the influence of alcohol, studies have noted that if a person reaches a BAC of .08 or lower, alcohol would instantly influence their overall performance in driving as seen in studies and driver simulations. Drivers under the influence of alcohol would have reduced peripheral vision, which would disable them from seeing the entire road and where they are going. Drunk drivers also would have poor recovery rates when they are directed with glare from opposite cars. They would also be unable to stay focused in driving and visual tracking, which would be crucial when it comes to stop signs, approaching vehicles and other vehicles overtaking or turning .
In the United States, action against drunk driving or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is cemented by both state and federal law. As noted above, anyone with a BAC of .08 or lower is considered illegal under the law. Law enforcers are trained to detect DUI and perform the standardized field sobriety tests and drug recognition experts test to test if a driver has indeed been under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Enforcers are also given training to utilize the Eyecheck Pupillometer test to check the pupils of drivers to ensure sobriety. Aside from performing these tests to identify DUI cases, the government is also enforcing saturation patrols to ensure increased enforcement efforts to arrest drunk drivers. Freeway watch is also done by law enforcers to reduce drunk drivers. There are also initiatives such as the “You Drink and Drive, You Lose” initiative every December to January, which teaches drivers to take care of their driving as in these periods, America’s highways are busy and accident prone. The media also aids in improving public awareness about drunk driving and educating violators of the long-term effects it has on their driving and safety. There are also the installation of checkpoints in wee hours of the morning to ensure that drivers would be safe from drunk drivers and drunk drivers would immediately be apprehended to prevent further damages and accidents .
In this day and age, locating a means to relax one’s aura or serve as a momentary distraction from the daily toils of life is a privilege not to be wasted. Alcohol may provide this momentary distraction, however, like any other medium serving as an alternative to relax or distract one’s mind, it must be taken in moderation or avoided entirely given the dangers it has to the body. When it comes to driving after drinking, it is crucial for drivers to understand the implications of driving while under the influence as it would impact not just their life but also the passengers they have and the people whom they would collide with in the road. There are several alternatives for drunk drivers to consider in ensuring safety for them and their passengers, removing the risks of accidents and deaths. Both the federal and state governments must fully enforce their own policies over drunk driving to ensure that the public is closely monitored for drivers who could not stop themselves from driving and drinking despite its dangers. Applying stringent policies and information for both new and old drivers regarding the dangers of drunk driving must be followed religiously as it would save a lot of lives from reckless and livid drivers due to being under the influence of alcohol.
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US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Impaired Driving: Get the Facts." Injury Prevention and Control: Motor Vehicle Safety, 13 April 2013. Web. 14 May 2013.
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