Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The What’s Up Wednesday program was started as a fun way to bring attention to serious safety issues we all face on the roadway. Our signs have been funny, puny, cheesy, hackneyed, and sometimes even mildly offensive. If our signs have ever made you stop and think about safety or the ramifications of crashes and breakdowns, then they are doing their job. While we can make jokes and bad puns about pretty much everything, it’s important to remember that dangers on the road are not funny.

Driving under the influence of alcohol has caused so much pain to many families the world over due to injuries and the loss of life. Drinking affects perception abilities, reaction time, and reflexes. Adding a vehicle to these inhibitors can only make matters worse.

Making stupid decisions and hurting ourselves or losing our own life is senseless but causing harming or killing others is inexcusable.   Even if we’re lucky enough to not hurt ourselves or others, repercussions of drinking and driving include:  legal costs, increased insurance costs, loss of driver’s license, possibly criminal record, and jail, and living with guilt that we caused an accident or injuries or worse are also factors that will haunt us for the rest of our lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one-third of vehicle crash deaths involve an alcohol-impaired driver. Every day, approximately 30 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 48 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $51 billion.

Even if our alcohol level is below the legal limit, it does not mean we are not driving under the influence. A blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08% is considered legally impaired. However, alcohol can start to affect many of our senses after only one drink. No matter the circumstances, we should never drink and drive. It’s not worth the risk of putting ourselves and others in danger.   Don’t assume you are “ok” to drive after a few beers and add to the statistics.

Here’s an example of how your BAC level affects your driving:

BAC of 0.02

Lack of judgment, increased relaxation, slightly increased body temperature, mood swings, decreased visual functionality, inability to multi-task

BAC of 0.05

Increased lack of judgment, exaggerated behavior, lack of coordination, reduced ability to detect moving objects, lack of alertness, lack of inhibitions, decreased small-muscle control, reduced response rate

BAC of 0.08

Reduced muscle coordination, lack of judgment, lack of reasoning, lack of self-control, loss of short-term memory, reduced ability to concentrate, lack of speed control, reduced ability to process information

BAC of 0.10

Poor coordination, slowed reaction times, reduced ability to control the vehicle, reduced ability to keep the vehicle within a lane and brake at appropriate times, slurred speech

BAC of 0.15

Extreme loss of balance, nearly zero muscle control, vomiting, impaired visual and auditory information processing, significantly reduced attention to driving tasks

Drinking can sneak up on us, and it is easy to drink more than we planned, especially around significant events. Just be safe and do not drive after drinking. Make a plan with a designated driver and stick with it to ensure everyone gets home safely. There are also some alternatives to having a relative, friend, or loved one as the designated driver.  The easiest is just to call a taxi, Uber, or Lyft.