Opinion Columns Jaime

Jaime Parkinson

Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

It is a familiar story - a girl goes to a party to have some fun. She enjoys the night by dancing and having a few beers, maybe a few too many. As she leaves the party, she laughs at the boy who is on top of a table singing at the top of his lungs. “Obviously he has had too much to drink,” she thinks to herself. She finishes her last drink and gets in her car to go home, feeling invincible. On her way home, she loses control of her car and hits a van carrying a mother and her two young children. The mother and one child are seriously injured; the other child is killed on impact. The girl walks away with minor injuries, facing possible jail time and a lifetime full of regret. Although the girl did not believe she was impaired because she only had a few beers, she was buzzed driving. The U.S. Department of Transportation is trying to encourage people to use a designated driver in their ad campaigns: “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” and “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.” Anytime a driver gets behind the wheel of a car after he has had alcohol, he is putting not only his life in danger but also endangering the lives of the other people on the road.
Drunk drivers are responsible for many automobile accidents in the United States. In 2005, 16,885 people were killed in alcohol related accidents. Thirteen thousand of those accidents occurred when the drunk driver’s alcohol limit was over 0.08. (Impaired Driving Division at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2005) Over three thousand of these alcohol related accidents happened when the driver was not legally intoxicated. These accidents fall into the category of buzzed driving. Just because a person does not exceed the legal blood alcohol limit does not mean it is safe for him to drive.
The legal alcohol limit for driving in all fifty states is 0.08. Only a few twelve-ounce beers are necessary for a person to exceed the legal limit, especially when drinking on an empty stomach. When a person drinks alcohol without eating food, his blood alcohol level increases faster. A person should not drive a car after having any alcoholic drink. Alcohol slows down a person’s reaction time, makes it much harder to concentrate on more than one thing at a time, and increases the chance that a person will fall asleep while driving. When the person’s blood alcohol level is 0.05, his risks while driving double. (Australian Transport Safety Bureau, 2005)
Not all people are making the decision to drink and drive. More people are using designated drivers when they consume alcohol. Approximately fifty-nine percent of the American population, or 126 million people, have been a designated driver, while thirty-nine percent of the American population has been driven home by a designated driver. (TNS Custom Research, 2008)(TNS Custom Research, 2008) Thanks to the use of designated drivers, the number of alcohol related accidents is decreasing. In 2007, almost 13,000 accidents occurred because of drunk or buzzed driving. (U.S. Department of Transportation/ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2007) While this is a decrease of over 3,000 accidents since 2005, this number is still too high.
Many people go to a party, have a few drinks, and get in their car to drive home without thinking twice about the risk they are taking by driving while impaired. A blood alcohol content of 0.08 means a driver is legally drunk. When a person’s blood alcohol content is less than 0.08, he is driving buzzed. Whether a person is just buzzed or legally drunk, he is putting his life in danger and the lives of everyone else on the road. In 2007, about 13,000 accidents occurred as a result of buzzed or drunk driving. That is one accident approximately every forty minutes. (U.S. Department of Transportation/ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2007) If everyone would take the time to find and use a designated driver, the roads would be a safer place for everyone.

List of Works Consulted

Australian Transport Safety Bureau. 2005. Do You Know When to Stop?
Department of Transport and Regional Services. Retrieved January 18, 2009

Geisner, Sara. (2008, Dec. 22). Designate a Driver: Save a Life; Save the
Environment. Anheuser-Busch Designated Driver Survey. Retrieved January 18,
2009 from http://www.alcoholstats.com/

The Impaired Driving Division at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
(2006). Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. Holiday Planner, Fact Sheet and
Talking Points. Retrieved January 18, 2009, from http://www.stopimpaireddriving.org/

U.S. Department of Transportation/ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
(2007). Drunk Driving Prevention. Ad Council. Retrieved January 18, 2009
from http://www.adcouncil.org/default.aspx?id=49

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