Alcohol Awareness Month is a public health program created in 1987 by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence to increase outreach and education on the dangers of alcoholism and issues related to alcohol. It has since become a national movement spanning the month of April.
As a personal injury law firm, Jones & Swanson witnesses one of the most devastating effects of alcohol misuse firsthand. Accidents caused by alcohol abuse can cause some of the most life-altering injuries and, worst of all, deaths. According to the CDC, 32 people in the US are killed every day in auto accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver – that’s one every 45 minutes.
It’s crucial to be aware of the risks and take the proper precautions if you plan to drink or be around others who are drinking, to prevent any potential catastrophic injuries.
Teens & Young Adults
For any driver, drinking any amount of alcohol before driving increases the risk of being involved in a crash. This is true for teens just beginning their driving journey. According to the CDC, teenagers have a much higher risk of getting in an accident than an older driver with the same blood alcohol concentration. Young adults ages 21-24 have the highest prevalence of driving after having too much to drink when compared with other adults.
Believe it or not, driving while impaired is more common among men than women. The CDC status that 22% of male drivers killed in auto accidents in 2020 were males impaired by drinking. 16% were females impaired by alcohol.
A higher percentage of motorcyclists drive while impaired compared to other types of motorists. The CDC provides this statistic: 27% of motorcycle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2020 were impaired by alcohol, compared with 23% of car drivers.
Drivers Without Seatbelts
Failure to wear a seatbelt is more common among people who drive impaired. Not wearing a seatbelt is proven to lead to more severe/deadly injuries.
66% of alcohol-impaired drivers killed in auto accidents had no seatbelt, versus 44% of drivers killed with no alcohol in their system, according to CDC data.
Drivers with Prior DUI Convictions
The CDC also says that drivers who were charged with a DUI in the past a four times more likely to be involved in a fatal auto accident involving alcohol, compared to drivers with no alcohol in their systems.
Though these groups are the most at risk, everyone can be affected and everyone can play a part in stopping alcohol-impaired driving.
What You Can Do
If you plan to drink, make plans in advance so you don’t have to drive.
Get a ride home.
If you’ve been drinking, call a ride service or find a trusted individual who has not been drinking to drive you home.
Agree on a designated driver before drinking.
If you plan on drinking with a group, speak to them in advance and agree on a trusted designated driver that will abstain from drinking.
Know how your medications react with alcohol.
If you’re on prescription or over-the-counter medications, be sure to read the labels carefully. Many medications do not mix well with alcohol. They may affect your ability to drive and may also have other dangerous side effects when combined with alcohol.
Don’t let others drive drunk.
Hold others accountable and do not let them drive impaired. Help them find another way home if they’ve been drinking. This keeps them safer, and yourself.
Never ride with an impaired driver.
If you suspect your driver is impaired, get out of the vehicle and call a trusted friend or ride service.
Be a proactive host.
If you’re hosting a get-together where alcohol is available, tell your guests ahead of time so they can prepare accordingly. Arrange a designated driver for those who need it and ensure that none of your guests leave with anyone who is impaired.
Wear your seatbelt.
Always wear your seatbelt regardless of the situation, if you’re the driver or passenger. Wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of serious injury and death in the event of an accident.
April may be Alcohol Awareness Month, but we should always take alcohol safety seriously. It could mean the difference between life and death.