Drunk driving in America

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Drunk driving is also a major issue all over the world. The main issue with driving while intoxicated is that it endangers not only the driver’s life but also the lives of other passengers. According to reports, collisions are the leading source of accidental fatalities and injuries in the United States (Light et al., pp.20). These injuries have been primarily linked to alcohol, with one survey predicting that about 40% of the US population would be involved in a crash as a result of drunk driving (Light et al., pp.22). Drunk driving is a prevalent characteristic of young people. According to the report, more than 20% of those that die due to accidents caused by drunk driving are the young people from ages 16 to 21. The report further indicates that in every two hours, three people die because of highway crashes caused by drunk driving. With the current notion that has made alcohol overwhelmingly accepted as a key facilitator of sociable interaction, overcoming drunk driving is one hard task. This paper will thus discuss the effects of alcohol on the drivers and the intervention mechanisms against drunk driving.

Effects of Alcohol on Drivers

Alcohol is a substance that when consumed reduces the functionality of the brain by impairing muscle coordination, thinking and reasoning capability. All the mentioned abilities are quite crucial in the operation of machinery and thus their impairment causes detrimental effects. One big effect of alcohol is its ability to severely impair the ability of a person to divert attention from one event to the other. Even in situations where the drunk can shift attention, their senses are largely affected by the fact that alcohol inhibits the functionality of sensory motors. The people that are drunk have a very narrow scope of usable vision compared to those that are sober. This is quite dangerous because once the eyes receive the information, it is moved to the brain for processing. Not having a clear vision, therefore, means that the drivers cannot make the best decisions while on the roads. Alcohol, when taken in large quantities, causes exaggerated behavior amongst the drivers which can include over speeding and paying less attention to the traffic laws. With the improvement of infrastructure by the authorities in many states, over speeding amongst the motorists continue to be on the rise. Reports, however, indicate that more than 30% of over speeding cases in the United States are caused by excessive consumption of alcohol (Meesmann et al., pp.65). In efforts to reduce the effects of alcohol on the drivers, several testing measures have been developed in efforts to judge whether one can drive or not. Such mechanisms include tests on the hand-eye coordination and tracking task.

Traits of the Drunk Drivers

Despite the uniqueness of different people or situation, scholars have argued that the drunk drivers present some common characteristics. Such characteristics according to Meesmann et al., 70 include depression, low assertiveness, introversion, inhibition, and anxiety. The drunk drivers also present an antisocial behavior and become irritated easily. Although they are rarely diagnosed with the antisocial personality trait (ASPD), most of them present low emotional adjustment and impulsivity. The offenders that start drinking at early stages with the excuse of having fun later develop antisocial behaviors compared than those that started when old or did not have a history of drinking in their families. The female drivers present various traits associated with the drunk drivers. The drivers also share a commonality in that more were underprivileged while growing up compared with the overall population of those that drive. The feeling of not having an equal opportunity with others in the society drove many of them into excessive drinking due to depression. The uniqueness of drunk drivers is drawn for the fact that despite the heavy penalties associated with this offense, they continue to break the law.

Measures against Drunk Driving

Many countries have developed legislations against cases of drunk driving. Such laws commonly referred as consent laws are applicable in all the 50 states in the US. The rules require all the drivers to heed the breath alcohol test, field sobriety test, and any other custody or roadside examinations conducted by the authorities tasked with that duty. The implied consent laws come with a lot of consequences when broken. Such consequences include suspension of the driver’s license and fines. States such as California have increased the penalty associated with drunk driving offenses to $1000 fine or not less than one year in jail (Meesmann et al. pp.161). Besides California states have taken a more proactive role in promoting the applicability of the implied consent through coming up with legislation that imposes criminal penalties when such rules are broken. Installation of the ignition interlock devices is also another measure that has been adopted by various states so as to curb drunk driving. The interlock device is connected to the vehicle ignition system and detects whether the driver is drunk or not. The system is programmed in such a way that the vehicle will not start until the driver blows into it and has an alcoholic content below the limit set. Media campaigns and awareness on the dangers of drunk driving has increased worldwide. Such campaigns champion that for the possible alternatives for the drunk drivers which include looking for a friend that is not drunk or calling a taxi. According to Grant et al., pp. 300 the drunk driving campaign and enforcement measures such as the Zero Tolerance Rules have so far created a significant positive outcome. The percentage of alcohol-related accidents have reduced drastically over the last ten years from 50.6% to 30%. The adoption of the 0.08 blood alcohol concentration limit for judging whether one is drunk or not in all the states including Puerto Rico and District of Columbia can also be largely attributed to the decline in alcohol-related accidents. From the report, alcohol cause close to 48% of pedestrian deaths and 40% of vehicle occupant fatalities. The pedestrians are thus the most vulnerable group when it comes to accidents and thus there is a need for more interventions to be developed.

Conclusion

In conclusion, drinking and driving are one of the dangerous activity one can indulge in. The lives of many people have been ended and destroyed by a drunk driver. This makes drunk driving a socially unacceptable reality that must be fought and condemned in the strongest terms possible. Besides the laws and the interventions by the authorities, there is still need for the people to realize that fighting drunk driving is an affair of each and every person. With the help of the new legislation and the continued sensitization to the dangers of drunk driving, accident cases should be quite minimal in the future.

Works Cited

Grant, Darren. “A structural analysis of US drunk driving policy.” International Review of Law and Economics 45 (2016): 14-22.

Light, Michael T., Ty Miller, and Brian C. Kelly. “Undocumented immigration, drug problems, and driving under the influence in the United States, 1990–2014.” American journal of public health 107.9 (2017): 1448-1454.

Meesmann, Uta, Heike Martensen, and Emmanuelle Dupont. “Impact of alcohol checks and social norm on driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).” Accident Analysis & Prevention80 (2015): 251-261.

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