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In 2006, an estimated 17,602 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes in the United States—an average of one every 30 minutes. These deaths constitute 41 percent of the 42,642 total traffic fatalities. Of these, an estimated 13,470 involved a driver with an illegal BAC (.08 or greater).
What can I do to help prevent drunk driving?
Two of the most important things you can do are never drive after drinking and never ride with someone who has been drinking. Volunteer to be a designated driver, call a taxi for yourself or someone else who has had too much to drink or stay the night where you are. There are plenty of ways to get home safely but drinking and driving is not one of them.
How can I be a responsible party host?
Some of the ways that you can be a responsible host include:
- Make sure each group of guests has a designated driver.
- Collect car keys from arriving guests and never give keys to someone who is intoxicated.
- Have a responsible bartender.
- Serve food before serving drinks.
- Offer alcohol-free drinks.
- Stop serving alcohol well before the party ends.
- Call a taxi for guests who have had too much to drink or, if possible, offer for them to stay the night.
What does "drink in moderation" mean?
If you choose to drink, here is what the experts suggest:
- No more than one drink an hour.
- No more than two drinks per day for men, one per day for women.
- No drinking alcohol more than four days per week.
Is it true that alcohol-related crashes happen primarily during the winter holidays?
While there may be an increase in intoxicated drivers and related crashes around the holidays, alcohol-related crashes happen every day. From January 1, 2007 to October 31, 2007, 185 alcohol related crashes occurred within the city of Chesapeake. During this same time period, there were 532 impaired drivers arrested in the city.
Who causes the greatest number of drinking and driving crashes?
Generally, the young driver is more involved than other drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, 21-34 year old impaired drivers are involved in approximately 50 percent of all alcohol-related fatal crashes.
How extensive is the problem of drinking and driving?
There are approximately 1.5 million arrests each year for DUI, nationally. While this may seem like a lot, there are many more drivers who, if picked up by the police, would be arrested for DUI. Even if a driver has a blood alcohol concentration lower than the legal limit (0.08 percent in Virginia) they should still not get behind the wheel of a car since even one drink can impair your ability to be a safe driver.
Is it true that most drinking and driving incidents are caused by repeat offenders?
No. Of the 1.5 million drivers arrested for driving under the influence in 1997, two-thirds (1 million) were considered first-time offenders.
Is it really the drinking that causes the fatal crash?
This can be difficult to isolate as the sole cause. It's pretty clear that drinking plays a significant part in many fatal crashes. However, 42 percent of intoxicated drivers involved in fatal crashes were also speeding. It's unclear whether they would have been speeding if they had not been drinking, or whether speeding and drinking and driving - both risk-taking behaviors - were part of their general lifestyle pattern.
How about drugs and driving?
A person does not have to be drinking to be arrested for driving under the influence. Drivers can be arrested for DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.00 percent if there is proof that the impairment is due to drug use. Driving after using drugs appears to be more common among young drivers (13 percent for those 16-20 years old) than older drivers (5 percent for those 21 and older).
Why is the term "impaired driving" often used, rather than "drunk driving"?
"Drunk driving" typically refers to driving with a blood alcohol concentration which is at a level where a person can be arrested for DUI (in Virginia, this is 0.08). Impaired driving means that a person's skills - including judgment, coordination, response time, and more - are affected much earlier before the BAC reaches 0.08 percent. It also refers to the fact that other drugs, including certain prescription drugs, over the counter medications, and illicit drugs, can affect driving skill. Each of these has important lessons for safety.