Intoxication and driving

233 crashes, 4 fatal, 26 serious injuries, 62 minor injuries and 141 damage only. The social costs for these crashes mount up to more than $44 million.

 

It is important to realise that this is only the tip of the iceberg, because for every reported crash there are a few crashes that are not being reported for obvious reasons. This may give drivers the perception that the chances of being caught are very slim, but all the drivers that crashed thought it wouldn’t happen to them too!

 

 

Effects of alcohol on people

Alcohol and vehicles are a deadly mix. Each year many families lose loved ones, or people are mutilated for life because an impaired driver made a reckless decision to drink and drive.

Alcohol is a depressant. It is absorbed into the blood stream and affects body functions. Although quickly absorbed, it remains in the body for an extended period of time. Many mistakenly believe that strong coffee or a cold shower will alleviate the effects of alcohol. These remedies do not work, and only time will eliminate alcohol from the body. For this reason, alcohol may still be detectable in the blood stream at lunchtime the following day.

Alcohol reduces driving skills

Alcohol has a depressant effect on driving skills causing drivers to misjudge their capabilities. Some of the effects of alcohol that affect driving include:

  • reaction     time - slow reflexes decrease the ability to react swiftly to     situations
  • vision     - eye muscles function more slowly. Eye movement and perception are     altered, possibly resulting in blurred vision. Night vision and colour perception     are also impaired.
  • tracking     - the ability to judge the car's position on the road, the location of     other vehicles, centre line, road signs, etc., can be adversely affected.
  • concentration     - attention to driving decreases and/or drowsiness may occur
  • comprehension     - the depressant effect of alcohol hinders the ability to make rational     decisions
  • coordination     – your coordination for driving will be affected by reduced     eye/hand/foot coordination.

Mixing alcohol and other drugs

If alcohol is used in conjunction with other drugs (legal or illegal), the effects of both substances will be increased – an even more deadly situation. Education is offered to increase awareness about this effect as well. In the case of prescription drugs, health professionals should be educating patients about the dangers of combining alcohol with medications they are prescribing.

Getting home afterwards Blood alcohol concentration is affected by weight and number of drinks ingested. If you are going to drink, the safest course of action is to make alternative transportation arrangements before you start drinking. These might include:

  • public     transportation
  • taxis
  • designated     drivers, with someone you trust to remain sober
  • prior     arrangements to stay overnight
  • calling     someone to pick you up

Intoxicated driver ahead!

If you observe a drunk driver, do not attempt to approach with your vehicle. Instead, call the police. Drunk drivers are risking their own lives and the lives of others. Signs of a drunk driver include:

  • unable     to stay within the lane
  • driving     too fast or too slow
  • taking     wide turns
  • slowing     down and speeding up erratically
  • driving     too close behind another vehicle
  • pulling     over recklessly
  • driving     without using headlights

Reduced driver performance even at low levels

Performance becomes much worse as the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) increases, for example:

  • .02 to     .05 BAC - the ability to judge distances and to see or locate moving     lights correctly is reduced. The tendency to take risks is increased, and     the ability to respond to several stimuli is decreased.
  • .05 to     .08 BAC - the ability to judge distances is further reduced,     reactions are slower, and concentration span is shorter. Drivers are five     times more likely to have a crash than before they started drinking.
  • .08 to     .12 BAC - over confidence sets in, over-estimation of one’s abilities     leads to reckless driving, and peripheral vision and perception of     obstacles are impaired. Drivers are ten times more likely to have a crash.

There is so much information available to help someone make an informative decision, but it is up to the individual to take the first step.

You may ask where the young drivers aged 15-19 get their alcohol from. The answer in most cases is from home… is that your son or daughter, brother or sister?