After having a few drinks, most Americans thankfully choose not to drive. Over 17 million of them do, however, even when they have a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent, which renders them legally drunk.
The implications of that are manifestly clear for car accidents and roadway fatalities. Noteworthy are the statistics showing that the number of motorists who choose to drive inebriated is increasing. “It’s going up slightly, which is the wrong trend,” says David Strickland, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”).
The statistics come courtesy of a recent NHTSA study tracking the driving attitudes of Americans. Close to 7,000 drivers participated in the survey, and what their responses reveal is that drivers who do not drink and drive need to be aware that an appreciable number of other motorists are driving after they’ve had a few drinks – in some cases, lots of drinks.
In fact, many of the survey respondents display a marked confidence in their ability to drive after drinking; 40 percent of them said that they were safe drivers even after having five drinks.
NHTSA officials and other safety experts disagree strongly with that assumption, the Department of Transportation noting that over 30 percent of all roadway deaths involve a drunk driver. A Governors Highway Safety official states that, “We would cut fatalities by half if we had 100 percent seat belt use and eliminated drunk driving.”
Despite the national emergence of high-publicity traffic enforcement campaigns that target drinking and driving – and which statistics show do bring about a measurable reduction in crashes involving impaired drivers – a near absence of drunk drivers on roadways in the future is highly unlikely, given a number like the following: Twenty percent of the NHTSA respondents say that, within the past year, they have driven after drinking alcohol.
Related Resource: www.usatoday.com “Government study: 1 in 12 drivers admit driving drunk” August 25, 2010