Everyone knows drinking and driving is a bad idea. The statistics indicating just how bad an idea it is are startling: according to the Centers for Disease Control, almost 30 people die in this country from car crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver every day. Put another way, one person dies from car crashes involving alcohol every 51 minutes.
Despite numerous campaigns aimed at curbing drinking and driving, crashes involving impaired driving continue to devastate. In 2013, 10,067 people were killed in alcohol-impaired crashes, accounting for almost one-third of all U.S. traffic fatalities. Seventeen percent of traffic fatalities for children aged 0-14 years old that same year involved a driver impaired by alcohol. Over half of the 200 children passengers aged 0-14 years who perished in alcohol-impaired car crashes were actually riding in the same vehicle as the alcohol-impaired driver.
While these statistics involve impaired drivers whose driving resulted in an accident, they do not address the frequency of persons who drive while impaired. Therefore, the question remains: how many Americans drink and drive, whether or not they get in an accident? The answer is truly staggering: according to NBC News citing the results of a government survey, more than 4 million U.S. adults admit they drink and drive at least sometimes. That adds up to more than 121 million times someone who’s had one too many is on the road each year. Researchers for this survey stated that this number is probably an underestimate, as people may not confess to drinking and driving or admit it to themselves. Also, the study didn’t cover drivers under 18. What is interesting about the findings is that although the rates did not vary much among the sexes – men accounted for 80 percent of episodes – they did vary greatly from state-to-state.
Some state correlations noted in the study are predictable. For example, in states where people drink more in general, a larger percentage of people admit to driving after consuming alcohol. For example, only 31 percent of adults in Utah stated they consumed alcohol; Utah also boasts the lowest impaired-driving rates.
Another interesting association arose in the study, however, that could help finally address and combat the problem of impaired driving better than an advertising campaign: states with primary seat-belt laws, or laws that allow police to stop drivers if they observe the driver not wearing a seatbelt, had lower rates of alcohol-impaired driving.
Indeed, seat belt use, the study found, is 50% effective in preventing driver fatalities in car crashes. Not surprisingly, seat belt use is higher in states that have primary seat belt laws. (Rates are lower in states that have secondary seat belt laws, wherein the police officer must observe another traffic offense before pulling a car over for not wearing a seatbelt; after he stops the car for the first violation, the officer may ticket the driver for failing to wear a seatbelt.)
The study found that people who did not always wear a seat belt “had alcohol-impaired driving rates three times higher than those who were always belted.” NBCNews.com. Additionally, in states with a secondary seat belt law, impaired drivers consistently did not wear seat belts.
Therefore, while drinking and driving continues to remain a national menace, these findings suggest that primary seat belt laws may reduce the number of fatalities among alcohol-impaired drivers. Luckily, Florida has had a primary seatbelt law state since 2009. Currently, 34 states also have primary seatbelt laws. Primary seat belt laws also benefit the states they serve by, according to the CDC, encouraging all drivers to buckle up, whether impaired or not. In 2010, states with primary seatbelt laws saw seat belt use at 89%. However, in states with only secondary seatbelt laws, seat belt use was 80%. According to the CDC, adult seat belt use is the most effective way to reduce fatalities and injuries in car accidents.
The takeaway from this is obvious: please wear your seatbelt. Please do not drive while impaired. If the unthinkable happens and you are injured or a loved one dies as a result of a car crash involving the negligence of an impaired driver, call the skilled attorneys at Brooks Law Group today. We can help determine whether you are entitled to any compensation.