Drinking and driving has long been noted as one of the top-most reasons why people die each year. According to reports, most of the cases involve both men and women who are most often than not found on night clubs or drinking areas and are aggressive in driving their own cars home. With the stressful life that the society deals with everyday, it could not be denied that everyone tries to go out their own way to be able to relax themselves from all the hardships that they had to meet with. Some find drinking alcoholic beverages that primarily helps them forget their adversities every now and then.
However, the outcome of such entertaining relaxation usually results to a dangerous situation. Most of those who are intoxicated and later on decide to drive themselves home, meet several street accidents. True, as the range of the drinking-age gets wider, and the more cars available there are for the less-economically advantageous families are flooding the society, it could be noted that the car-accidents also increase. Because of this, the mixture of drinking and driving has been questioned further by health experts as well as accident-control program groups.
This is the reason why it is indeed necessary to have a deeper study on why the situation is aggravated as well as to how the said particular situation could be regulated to assist the human society in reducing the number of lives lost to car accidents due to intoxication every year. What Alcohol Does to the Mind and Body of the Driver? When people drive, it has been estimated, 85 to 90 percent of the information they obtain regarding the traffic situation is received through the eyes. The human vision is controlled by a very delicate system of muscles that move and focus your eyes.
Alcohol slows the function of these muscles and thus impairs vision in several ways. For one thing, alcohol reduces the ability of the eyes to control the amount of light entering the retina. That’s especially critical at night. Why? Because it increases the amount of time it takes for the eye to recover from the glare of oncoming headlights. Explains Alcohol, Vision & Driving, distributed by the American Automobile Association: “Normally, it takes one second for the pupil to constrict and respond to the glare of oncoming headlights.
It takes seven seconds after exposure to headlight glare for the pupil to once again adapt to the dark conditions. This recovery action is slowed by alcohol. ” (As quoted by Smith 43) Consider the potential danger: It is late at night. You are driving on a winding, narrow highway—just one lane in each direction. The glare of the headlights is blinding for drivers on both sides of the road. How safe would an individual feel if he knew that the driver of an oncoming car had been drinking? Alcohol also reduces peripheral vision—the ability, when looking straight ahead, to notice things on either side of you.
This is especially dangerous when mixing alcohol and high-speed driving. Explains Alcohol, Vision & Driving: “Most drivers fail to realize that at 30 MPH [48 km/hr], a driver has reduced his side vision by 25%. At 45 MPH [72 km/hr], he has reduced his side vision by 50%. And at speeds over 60 MPH [97 km/hr], he is literally driving down a ‘vision tunnel’” (Gustfield 23). Just imagine the possible consequences when the drinking driver speeds through intersections or past parked cars where a small child may suddenly dart out.
Moreover, alcohol can cause double vision, so that the drinking driver may see two cars approaching him instead of one. Furthermore, it can affect a person’s ability to judge distance. From all of this, it is evident that alcohol and driving, like oil and water, just don’t mix. It’s bad enough that the drinking driver has trouble seeing and takes more risks. What further compounds the problem is that alcohol also slows down his reaction time. As a result, it may take just a fraction of a second longer for him to move his foot from the accelerator to the brake pedal.
To illustrate how dangerous that can be, the report by Malfetti and Winter notes that if you have just two 12-ounce (355-cc) cans of beer within an hour, your reaction time may be slowed by two fifths of a second. Now, that may not sound like much. But the report notes: In two fifths of a second, an automobile traveling at 55 miles per hour (90 km/hr) will travel an additional 34 feet (10. 4 m)! (Overbei 45) Why, that could be the difference between a near-miss and a fatal accident! When it is to be considered how alcohol affects a person’s vision, judgment, and reflexes, it is easy to see why drinking and driving is a deadly combination.
Constant attention to the causes of alcohol among drinkers and drivers would certainly result to one’s ability in giving the necessary conclusion pertaining to the reason as to how why it is indeed a dangerous move to do each action at once. How far have this dilemma or social devastation resulted to through the years? The Worldwide Reports In spite of all these efforts, the drunk-driving death toll throughout the world continues to rise. In Brazil one person is killed every 21 minutes—some 25,000 each year—in alcohol-related accidents. That is about 50 percent of all traffic fatalities there.
In England and Germany, about one fifth of all traffic fatalities are said to be alcohol related. In Mexico, according to several sources, 80 percent of the 50,000 traffic fatalities are due to ‘human error, basically caused by drunk driving,’ reports Mexico City’s El Universal. It is estimated that over 25 percent of traffic casualties in South Africa involve alcohol. In the United States in an average year, alcohol-related accidents result in some 650,000 injuries, of which about 40,000 are serious; over 23,000 people are killed—about half of the total traffic fatalities.
Worldwide, every year an estimated quarter of a million human lives are snuffed out as a result of traffic accidents! According to The Toronto Star, this is “more than all those killed each year in wars, crimes and industrial accidents. ” In Britain the cost of a single road death is assessed at ? 252,000 ($400,000, U. S. ). Why so much? Apart from what has been invested in the individual, his lost earning potential, and material damage, there is the expense of ambulance, hospital, and other services. Unsafe driving is costly indeed! (Awake! 13)
Out of desperation in attempting to curb the alcohol-impaired driver, a DWI Victims Panel was organized in Washington State, U. S. A. It has become part of the judicial process in sentencing those convicted of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant (Overbei 45). The program is now employed in many parts of that country. Its purpose is to bring offenders face-to-face with the tragic consequences of their irresponsible drinking. The guilty offenders are sentenced by the courts to listen to the victims and their family members and be made aware of the awful price that has been paid.
Many efforts are being made to stem this tidal wave of devastation. In the United States, public awareness campaigns have been launched by grass-roots organizations such as RID (Remove Intoxicated Drivers) and MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers). There are Stop-DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) programs. Similar organizations exist in other countries. These help victims with their rights and promote legal reforms. (Smith 32) Law-enforcement agencies are stepping up efforts to arrest impaired drivers, using such things as sobriety checkpoints.
Various laws have been enacted to make those who serve alcoholic beverages liable for prosecution. Even billboards are being used to remind drivers of existing laws. The Opposing Thoughts Those who end up in accidents in the streets as a result of drunken driving only results to two either ways, it is either they become the murderer who includes other innocent people in the accident or they end up as the victim in their own committed mistakes of drinking and driving at the same time. Psychologists find it easier to solve this particular situation through making the drivers realize of the possible results of their acts.
Most likely, it could be noted that people are having different thoughts about the situation that the society is facing today with regards the fact that alcohol and driving causes so much death tolls in the human community today. Some think that there are too many restrictions that are implemented by the government that even simple drinking is accused to be something dangerous. On the other hand however, there are those people who believe that there is no room for any consideration for those people who drink and drive regardless of how much alcohol they drunk.
These opposing thoughts usually make it harder for the society to deal with the situation in a much effective procedure. Conclusion “Drinking and driving don’t mix,” the advertisements say, and stiff penalties are imposed on those who drive while intoxicated. Although most of the attention has been on drunk drivers, little has been focused on drinking and walking (Overbei 46). According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 5,546 pedestrians were killed in the United States by cars in 1992, and over a third of those pedestrians were drunk. They accounted for 14 percent of vehicle-related fatalities.
Of those over age 14, some 36 percent had a blood-alcohol level high enough for them to have been cited for drunken driving if they had been behind the wheel. Little is known at present as to how to prevent those deaths and who most at risk is. (Smith 54) With the research done in this paper, it could be noted that it has been proven that drinking and driving is indeed a dangerous mixture. People are then encouraged to take extra care as to what they are going to do especially when they have a drinking engagement and they are still in need of driving themselves back home.
Hence, in this particular situation, the most effective solution there really is self-control.
References: Smith, Timothy C.. Crashproof Your Kids: Make Your Teen a Safer, Smarter Driver. Fireside Publisher. (2006). Gusfield, Joseph R.. The Culture of Public Problems: Drinking-Driving and the Symbolic Order. University Of Chicago Press; Reprint edition. (1984). Overbey, Chris. Drinking and Driving War in America. Lulu. com Publishing. 2006) AWAKE! Drinking and Driving—What Can Be Done? Brooklyn New York Publishing. 1998. AWAKE! Be Responsible About Drinking and Driving. Brooklyn New York! 1999.