A survey conducted by the Gallup group showed that American citizens are more concerned with drunk drivers on the road, than people driving under the influence of other substances. Overall, 97% of people who were surveyed cited alcohol as the number one concern they have for drivers on the road. While participants were not asked to rate substances based on how impaired a substance made a driver, they were instead asked what substance concerned them the most regarding other driver’s safety on the road.
The results of the survey show that despite a countrywide attack on drunk driving, including public service announcements, education and increased punishment for those who are caught driving while under the influence of alcohol, there is still great worry over the safety of the roads. It also shows that it is difficult to change behavior simply with laws and PSAs. There must be more ways to influence people to eliminate their drunk driving patterns.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other public groups have helped to make a significant push for more accountability for drunk drivers as well as more public awareness about the issue. Way too many people have lost their lives. This Gallup survey also revealed that teenagers agree with adults that alcohol is more dangerous to consume prior to getting behind the wheel than other drugs.
Experts do agree that while marijuana does not appear to pose as great a risk to other drivers as alcohol, this might change as more and more states begin to legalize marijuana. It is unclear how the amount of people who smoke marijuana and drive will change, but it is likely to increase. Additionally, people are more prone to mix alcohol and marijuana, which is much more dangerous than either substance by itself.
New technology, developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), could put an end to drunk driving. The technology is a combination of breathalyzer and touch technology that would prevent the car from being operated by someone who is over the legal limit. Additionally, teenagers who have the system installed in their car would not be able to drive the car at all if they have alcohol in their system. NHTSA showed off their program to members of Congress this week and explained that they would like the system to be installed in cars as a safety option. While the system would not be mandatory, it would be an option for parents and possibly an incentive given by insurance companies.
“There is still a great deal of work to do, but support from Congress and industry has helped us achieve key research and development milestones. DADSS has enormous potential to prevent drunk driving in specific populations such as teen drivers and commercial fleets, and making it an option available to vehicle owners would provide a powerful new tool in the battle against drunk driving deaths,” explained Mark Rosekind, NHTSA Administrator.
The excitement surrounding this program can be explained when people look at drunk driving statistics. According to the FBI, it is believed that there are 300,000 incidents of drunk driving daily in the United States, but only 4,000 arrests are made each day for the offense. The huge difference in these numbers illustrates the need for more safeguards to be in place. It is clear that law enforcement cannot monitor all drivers and will not catch everyone who gets behind the wheel after consuming too much alcohol.
The optional safety measure is especially beneficial for those that have already been convicted of drunk driving. The FBI also reports that around 33% of all drunk driving arrests are with offenders that have already been caught intoxicated and behind the wheel. It would appear that there are some people who need the restrictions of a preventative program, and other people who would like the device for protective measures, especially with teenagers.
Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of preventable death in our country. Drivers who get behind the wheel of a car after they have been drinking is a threat to an entire community. Police all over the country spend countless hours monitoring the roads for signs of a person who has been drinking too much in an effort to help keep other travelers safe.
In addition to the drunk driving problem our country is experiencing, many drunk drivers are repeat offenders. While the punishment is stiff for driving under the influence, it has not deterred many from getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol even if they have already been convicted of drunk driving.
The state of Wisconsin recently tallied up the number of drunk driving incidents that were committed by someone who already had a record of drunk driving. They found that 33 percent of their drunk driving cases were with people who had been already been convicted. These repeat offenders are putting an entire state at risk and public officials and law enforcement felt it was time that something was done about this.
Instead of increasing the fines or jail time convicted drunk drivers face, the state of Wisconsin is looking to prevent the growing alcohol problem altogether. People who have already been convicted of driving under the influence must submit blood and fingernail samples so their alcohol use can be monitored. When a person is convicted of a DUI they are required to undergo one year of monitoring. During the year-long monitoring process people are less likely to drink and drive, and positive samples can help deter them to treatment programs.
“The goal is not to catch people. It’s to get them sober, so that they’re not killing someone on the road, and that they actually discover that there’s another life out there,” explained Doug Lewis, president of the company that is analyzing the blood and fingernail samples.
As if the roads weren’t dangerous enough since the population continues to grow, streets become more crowded and more drivers than ever are under the influence of some form of medication, news hit recently saying that nearly one-fifth of drinkers admitted to driving a car when they were near or over the legal limit for blood-alcohol level.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), their surveys showed an average of about 15 percent of drinkers admitted to driving near or over the limit combined in the past two years. Unfortunately many thousands of lives are lost each year due to alcohol-related traffic fatalities. These tragically preventable deaths continue to occur despite raising drinking ages, lowering BAC limits and increasing penalties for drunk driving.
The Holiday Season (Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day) is the most-traveled time of the year, and AAA estimates that about 95 million Americans will be traveling by cars to have celebrations with friends and family.
Please take precautions if your celebrations involve alcohol. Don’t let your loved ones drive drunk. You may not only save their lives, but also the lives of others on the road.