DUI Prevention Tips

Operating a motor vehicle requires concentration, alertness and the ability to perform a variety of tasks. To be safe a driver must remain aware of his or her surroundings make split second decisions on a constant basis and process a never-ending stream of information in the blink of an eye. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol inhibits a driver’s ability to perform these tasks and increases the risk of accidents.

Factors That Increase The Risk of Accidents

Blood alcohol level: The percentage of alcohol present in the blood stream to the total blood in the body is expressed as the “blood alcohol concentration,” or “BAC” and is usually expressed as the percentage of alcohol in deciliters of blood. For example, 0.08 percent BAC would mean the individual has 0.08 grams per deciliters of alcohol present in the blood. Normal benchmark readings for an average 160-pound male would be a BAC of @ 0.04 percent when read 60 minutes (one hour) after hour ingesting two drinks, which could be two 12-ounce beers or two other standard drinks with a shot of alcohol when taken on an empty stomach.

Age and Inexperience

Age is also a factor: Younger drivers put them at higher risk of auto accident when drinking and driving, because young drivers are inexperienced in both driving AND in drinking. When youth mixes with alcohol it makes for a dangerous and all to often times deadly combination when an automobile is involved. Every year, over 3000 teen-aged drivers are killed in alcohol related auto crashes. This figure represents 1/3rd of all annual alcohol related auto fatalities. Twenty-three percent of these drivers, for whom drinking any quantity of alcohol is illegal, had BAC’s of 0.01 percent or higher, compared with 26 percent of drivers age 21 and older.

Every state has a BAC limit for operating a motor vehicle, and operating a vehicle with a BAC over the designated limit is violation of law, which can result in legal fines and even jail time. Currently, the maximum BAC for drivers 21 years of age and older is 0.08 in all 50 states.

Countless independent studies have proven that the risk of auto accidents rises sharply as blood alcohol levels increase, and for obvious reasons. The more person drinks, the less he or she is able to control the motor skills necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle. Even lower levels of blood alcohol can impair certain skills required to drive safely. Interestingly, the likelihood of experiencing a motor vehicle crash in drivers with BAC between 0.02 and 0.04 is 1.4 times greater than drivers who did not have any drinks at all, and 11 times higher in drivers with BAC levels of 0.05 to 0.09. For drivers with BAC between 0.10 and 0.14, the likelihood of crash is a staggering 48 times higher than drivers with no alcohol in their blood. And for drivers with BAC 0.15 and higher, the risk of crash is a shocking 380 times higher than sober drivers.

Not surprisingly, driver inexperience – those ages 16 to 20 – plays a significant role in motor vehicle accidents, even when alcohol is not involved. One study suggests drivers in this age group lack the experience of older drivers to allow them to monitor and adjust to hazardous road conditions. Another characteristic of youth is the inability to accurate assess risk and danger, which means they speed more and take greater risks on the road than experienced drivers.

Being a Man: 29% of male drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had BAC’s of 0.01 percent or higher, while only 15% of female drivers were in such crashes. Curiously however, some studies reveal females with blood alcohol levels between 0.05 to 0.09 percent may be at greater risk to be in a crash than their male counterparts. The reason being that women do not metabolize alcohol the same way as men, which means their BAC levels can rise higher and faster than men.

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