Driving Drunk or Drowsy, both are Deadly

Being careful costs you nothing. Being careless can cost you everything. Whether you kill yourself or kill someone else, the end result is terminal.  Once a life is taken, you can´t fix it or pay for it – itś gone forever. There are many ways people are careless on the roads, two of which include drunk driving and drowsy driving.

Drunk Driving

Anytime, day or night, if under the influence of alcohol, the critical decision is to stay off the roads.  Always know who will be the designated driver of your group and if you don´t know, then offer to be the designated driver (DD).  There are thousands of accidents and deaths every year and planning ahead to find a DD can save your life.

Almost 1/3 of all Traffic Deaths are linked to Drunk Driving

According to Centers for Disease Control and prevention in 2014 almost 10,000 people were killed in alcohol related driving accidents; this is nearly one third of all traffic deaths in the United States. Other facts from the CDC:

  • “Almost 20% of all traffic deaths of children (age 0-14) reported in 2014 were caused by people driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol.”
  • “Over 1.1 million people were arrested in 2014 for driving under the influence of alcohol. Sadly, this is only one percent of the 121 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year.”
  • “Over half of the children who died, were innocent kids riding with a driver who was under the influence of alcohol.  When driving under the influence, there is a penalty that must be paid if caught.”

According to the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), approximately 28 people die every single day in crashes linked to drivers under the influence of alcohol which averages to one death every 53 minutes!


Other Drunk Driving Facts

  • According to MADD Drunk Driving Statistics on average, every two minutes a person is injured in an incident that has to do with drunk driving.
  • According to Do Something.Org (a world-wide organization made up of millions of young people trying to make a difference) on average, the drunk driver will drive approximately 80 times before getting arrested for the first time. They have also found evidence that teens who start drinking alcohol at a young age are seven times more likely to be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point in their lives.
  • According to Random facts approximately 30% of all Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime.
  • Also found in Random Facts, it is illegal to drive with a BAC level of .02 g/dL or higher.

Car crashed by itself? | by godog

Photo by: Filippo Giunchedi

Drowsy Driving

Whether drowsy or fatigued, the better alternative to driving yourself is to ask someone else who is alert and willing to drive you. Better yet, just stay where you are and rest until you are able to function correctly.

Deaths while Driving Drowsy

In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that drowsy driving was responsible for approximately 72,000 crashes and in those crashes there were nearly 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths.

Other Drowsy Driving Facts:

  • According to DrowsyDriving.org (the National Sleep Foundation), 60% of adult drivers say they have driven a vehicle while drowsy in the past 12 months, and more than one-third of these adults have actually fallen asleep while the vehicle was moving!
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates:
    • There is no test or tool to use when determining how sleepy a person is as opposed to how a breathalyzer is used when determining how drunk a person is.
    • State reporting practices are not consistent from officer to officer and there is little or no police training in identifying drowsiness as a crash factor.
    • Every state currently deals with ¨fatigue and/or sleepiness¨ in a similar way within their crash report forms however, the codes are inconsistent and two states (Missouri and Wisconsin) do not have specific codes for fatigue on their forms.
  • According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, driving while drowsy makes a person less able to effectively pay attention to the road. It also causes slow reaction time if you have to brake or steer suddenly and a person may be caught off guard which could cause a crash. The CDC also claims:
    • Adults between 18-29 are much more likely to drive while drowsy compared to other age groups.
    • Men are more likely than women to drive while drowsy and are almost twice as likely as women to fall asleep while driving (22% vs. 12%).
    • Adults with children are more likely to drive drowsy then those who do not have any children.
    • Individuals who snored were more likely to report falling asleep while driving.
    • People who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more.  People sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times.

driving? sleeping? | by guanmu.name

 Photo by: Andrew Guan

Which is Worse?

Is driving drunk or driving drowsy more hazardous?  They are BOTH hazardous and many could argue this decision both ways.  Whether you believe driving under the influence is worse or driving while drowsy is worse, both are deadly.  According to  Advanced Sleep Medicine Services, Inc. being drowsy or tired at the wheel is more dangerous than being under the influence of alcohol at the wheel. Staying awake for 18 hours straight can correspond to the attention level of blood alcohol content (BAC) of .05.  If someone stays awake for a full 24 hours can equal to a person with a BAC of .10, which is over the legal limit of .08.  According to Sleep Junkies  the lack of sleep vs the amount of alcohol both slow down a person´s reaction time and impairs a person´s memory.

The scariest and biggest factor that makes drowsy driving worse is that there is actually no test to determine whether someone was asleep behind the wheel as opposed to the tests associated with driving drunk behind the wheel.

Regardless if drunk or drowsy, the best answer is to stay off of the roads.  Being under the influence of alcohol or when feeling drowsy or fatigued – both kill thousands of people every year.

Some say it´s better to be safe than sorry which is something to seriously consider and live by. Both of these issues terrible problems that are the cause of too many unnecessary deaths and injuries every year.

Choose careful over careless.

Featured image by: Alex Proimos

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