Drunk driving is one of the most deadly forms of distracted driving, killing one person about every 45 minutes. Driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances is a risk to both the driver and other innocent people on the road. However, there are several things you can do to ensure that you or someone you know does not get behind the wheel intoxicated in order to prevent injury and death. This article will go over some of the most effective strategies of prevention for DUI-related accidents.
Awareness and Education
Education and awareness campaigns are the first step in preventing drunk driving accidents and other DUI-related incidents/deaths/injuries. The goal of these campaigns is to educate the general public, especially younger people such as teenagers, of the dangers of drinking and driving. Through highlighting the consequences of drinking and driving, the attitudes surrounding it begin to change. Some campaigns have slogans such as “Every 45 Minutes”, and “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving”, to inform the public of how catastrophic these accidents can be. Make it a priority to do your own research on drunk driving in order to know the facts, laws, and ultimately stay safe. Additionally, it is advised that you attempt to educate your friends, family, and those who surround you on the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence in order to reach more people.
Research has shown that education/awareness/social norming campaigns surrounding drunk driving have been successful in decreasing the rate of drunk driving in communities where these programs are present.
Another step you can take in preventing drunk driving and DUI-related accidents is to plan ahead. If you or someone you know are planning on drinking alcohol, make an effort to set a plan in place for transportation. There are multiple options to choose from other than getting behind the wheel – Uber, Lyft, public transportation, taxis, and other rideshare services are great options when you’re figuring out a ride. Being aware of the fact that you’ll need an alternative mode of transportation to get home safely is an important step in drunk driving prevention.
Keep Track of Your Alcohol Consumption
It’s a good idea to have a system in place to keep track of your alcohol consumption so that your blood-alcohol concentration remains under the legal limit of 0.08%. The more you drink, and the faster you drink, the higher your BAC will be. If you are planning on drinking alcohol, make sure to pace yourself and avoid beverages with a high alcohol percentage. It is a common belief that drinking water or coffee and eating can help to lower your BAC. However, this is untrue, and the only thing that can lower your BAC is time.
If you’ve been out drinking, know you can’t drive, and for some reason are unable to find a safe and secure way home, it is wise to spend the night at a family members or friend’s house. Not only does this ensure that you will not get behind the wheel while intoxicated, it helps to minimize the risk of injuring someone else on the road.
Hold Others Accountable
Preventing DUI-related accidents starts with you. Keeping tabs on your friends and family who have been drinking is responsible and necessary to keep others safe on the road. If someone you know has been drinking any amount of alcohol, check in with them and know the signs of a person who is too intoxicated to drive. First of all, keep an eye out for slurred speech, mobile impairment, difficulty walking, and glazed-over eyes. Usually, an intoxicated person insists that they are able to drive, when in reality they should be nowhere near the driver’s seat of a car. If someone seems to be too impaired to drive, offer to get them a rideshare service home if you are able. It is also advised to attempt to get them to stop drinking alcohol, and start drinking water.
Ignition Interlock Devices
An ignition interlock device, or IID, is a device that is installed in a vehicle (usually of a driver with a former DUI offense), that helps to prevent driving under the influence. The driver must blow into the device in order to detect their BAC, and if it is at a certain level, the car will not start. IIDs have been shown to reduce recidivism rates among drunk drivers, meaning that those who have been convicted of a DUI and have an IID installed in their vehicle are less likely to drink and drive again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention actually found that IID’s reduced drunk driving by 67% for repeat offenders.
Holiday and Weekend Driving
It’s important to acknowledge that on the holidays and weekends, drinking and driving is more commonly seen. People are often out drinking with family and friends, so the risk is higher. Being aware of this can help to prevent drunk driving accidents – if you are on the road, be cautious of your surroundings and look out for signs of impaired drivers. Some signs to look out for are speeding, swerving, excessive or inconsistent acceleration/deceleration, and ignoring traffic signals such as stop signs and stop lights. On holidays and weekends, it is not uncommon for police to set up sobriety checkpoints, to weed out any potential intoxicated drivers on the road. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHSTA) reports a 20% decrease in alcohol related accidents in areas where sobriety checkpoints are implemented.
Drunk driving is a serious issue that takes far too many lives each year. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help prevent the devastating injuries and deaths that drunk driving causes. By planning ahead, pacing your alcohol consumption, and holding others around you accountable regarding driving under the influence, we can minimize the number of alcohol-related accident fatalities and create a safer future for all on the road.