There are countless things people do every day to help keep themselves and those around them safe. They teach children not to talk to strangers. They wear seatbelts. They watch what they’re doing when using sharp objects. The world is full of dangers, and for the most part, humans pretty good at avoiding them.
However, it’s easy for many people to take dangerous risks when it comes to drinking and driving. This is because one of the significant impacts of drinking alcohol is impaired decision-making. Something that sounds like a terrible idea to a sober person might not seem like such a bad decision to someone who has had more than their share of alcohol.
One of the best ways to prevent drinking and driving then is to be sure that people fully understand the risks, that they’ve heard them repeated enough times that they’re not going to forget about the danger when intoxicated. It is also crucial that steps are taken before the drinking begins to help ensure that everyone is kept safe. The following will explore the data around drinking and driving and some standard methods that have been shown to prevent it.
Before diving into the risks and prevention methods of drinking and driving, it’s worth talking about what needs to happen if you’ve already found yourself injured or put at risk by someone who has been drinking and driving. Foremost, seek medical attention if you’ve been in any vehicle accident. There are several types of injuries that take days to manifest themselves that are quite serious and have better recovery results when treated early.
Second, you’re going to want to reach out to an attorney. These sorts of situations almost always result in legal proceedings, and you want to be prepared. You’re looking for someone who specializes in the type of law you’re dealing with, namely accidents or, even more specifically, accidents involving alcohol.
You’re also looking for someone who practices in the state where the incident occurred. This is because the laws and the interpretation of the law change depending on your location. If, for example, you or someone you love was injured because of a drunk driver in Savannah, Georgia, you’re going to be searching for a drink-driving accident lawyer in Georgia. Yes, Savannah is quite close to South Carolina, but the law is being handled in Georgia, so you need a lawyer who practices there.
Risks associated with drinking and driving
Society generally categorises alcohol in a separate class from drugs, but still many argue whether alcohol is a stimulant or a depressant.
One in three motor vehicle deaths is related to alcohol. Someone with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 is seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal vehicle accident than a sober driver (for people ages 21–34, it’s 12 times).
It is worth noting, however, that impairment begins far before the 0.08 mark. Even at 0.02, you have a decrease in your visual functions (this is the part of your mind that can follow a moving object with your eyes), and your ability to successfully perform two tasks at the same time diminishes. The more you drink, the further impaired your decision-making and reaction time are, and the more likely you are to get into an accident.
If you or your friends are going to be drinking, you need to plan ahead. This means figuring out how you’re going to get places before you have that first drink. This might mean looking up the bus routes and making sure you have changed. It might mean saving a taxi number on your phone or installing an app like Uber or Lyft. It might mean designating one person to stay sober and drive everyone home.
It is also essential to watch out for unplanned binge-drinking episodes. Binge-drinking is more highly associated with drink-driving than casual drinking. Let’s say you’re meeting up with an old friend for lunch. It’s okay for you guys to start ordering drinks and laughing about the good old days. It’s not okay for you to not stop for a moment and organize how you’re getting home now that things have changed.
Take care of your friends
If you’re out with friends, or they’re over at your house, do your due diligence to make sure they get home okay. This might mean calling a cab for them. This might mean having a car keys bowl and not giving them back until someone is sober (even if it’s the following day).
The above information should help you reduce the risk of drinking and driving among yourself and your friends. To protect yourself from other drivers, practice defensive driving and always wear your seatbelt. If you suspect a driver of being drunk or otherwise unsafe, report it. You could be saving the life of someone further up the road.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.