According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at least 37,133 people were killed in car accidents in 2017. Of those deaths, an estimate 10,874 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents involving drunk drivers (in Washington, that includes drivers with a BAC over .08). And, of those deaths, approximately 7,052 people were killed as a result of a driver having a BAC over .15. From a macro perspective, this is a remarkable decrease. In 1982, there were more than 21,000 drunk driving related fatalities in the United States. In other words, in four decades, we have seen a dramatic decrease with approximately 3x fewer DUI deaths than in 1982, the year the NHTSA started collecting data.
In Washington specifically, law enforcement has pulled out all the stops to halt this epidemic. Time-tested slogans like “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” “Drive Hammered, Get Nailed,” and with the legalization of marijuana, “Drive High, Get a DUI,” are plastered across billboards and shouted in all forms of media. In addition, Washington prosecutors – armed with mandatory minimum sentences for DUIs – have cracked down on these offenses. And, finally, the surge of for-hire transportation companies like Uber and Lyft has surely aided in the improvement of DUI statistics in Washington.
And, generally, Washington has seen some positive results. For example, according to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), in 2016 it was estimated that there were approximately 161 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities – 25% fewer then Virginia and more than 30% fewer than Arizona – the two states with the next closest size of population. Regardless, this is 161 more alcohol related fatalities than we should accept.
Everyone needs to do their part to help reduce drinking and driving. While it’s perfectly acceptable to go out with friends and have a great evening, recognizing the effects of alcohol on driving will go a long way to eliminated DUI deaths here in Washington. Here are a few things you should know about alcohol’s effect on the human body.
First – alcohol can reduce your ability to concentrate. While driving, you need undivided attention to manage your speed, stay in your lane, and to brake appropriately. Even a small amount of alcohol can inhibit your ability to process the necessary information to operate a vehicle.
Second – your reaction time plummets. The average adult has a reaction time of approximately .25 seconds. After just a drink or two, your reaction time can be 25% higher at a minimum making it difficult if not impossible to avoid hazards while driving.
Third – decision making worsens. While certainly – with proper protections in place – the inhibition of judgment alcohol provides can be a primary benefit. When driving, however, your brain’s ability to make snap judgments and be aware of your surrounding is crucial. Alcohol may prevent you from processing and make the snap judgments necessary while driving.
Fourth – your vision is negatively impacted. They’re called beer goggles for a reason. After drinking alcohol, you may notice that your vision is blurry, and you are unable to control your eye movement. For obvious reasons, good vision is a necessity while driving. An inability to see signs, other vehicles, or even children crossing the road is a side effect of impaired driving.
As a dedicated personal injury attorney, the Law Offices of Magnuson Lowell PS have seen their fair share of DUI related car accidents, injuries, and fatalities. If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle collision resulting from the negligent driving of an impaired driver, your rights need to be protected. Our confident and aggressive attorneys will fight for you and get the justice you deserve.
Call today for a free consultation (425)885-7500.