You and many others in Texas will likely be on the road more than usual in the coming weeks. This might include heading out for shopping trips, parties with friends and family gatherings. Unfortunately, since holiday events often involve the consumption of alcohol, your chances of becoming the victim of a drunk driver will also increase.
Even outside of holiday time, you never know when you might encounter another driver who has been drinking. While statistics show that the national average of fatal drunk driving accidents has generally declined over the past decade or so, the roads are by no means completely safe from the danger of drunk drivers.
Is any road safe?
Public safety organizations and law enforcement have used many tactics to discourage drivers from getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. Lowering the drinking age, increasing penalties for drunk driving offenses and ramping up public awareness campaigns at certain times of the year have had a positive effect, saving hundreds of lives each year, according to the National Safety Council. However, certain factors seem to increase your risk of a catastrophic or fatal accident with a drunk driver. For example:
- About 56% of fatal accidents involving alcohol occur in urban areas.
- More than 80% of alcohol-related traffic fatalities happen when the weather is clear or cloudy with no precipitation.
- Nearly 70% of fatal drunk driving crashes occur in the dark.
- More fatal accidents involving a drunk driver happen on principal arterial roadways rather than rural roads or interstates.
- Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration considerably higher than the legal limit of .08 are more likely to cause a crash resulting in fatal or life-altering injuries.
- Drivers between ages 25 to 35 have the highest rate of alcohol-related crashes with fatalities.
This does not mean you will not run the risk of an accident with a drunk driver on a rainy afternoon, nor does it mean that only those drivers at or above the legal limit will experience a reduction in coordination, perception, reaction time and decision-making abilities. While the highest rates of fatal crashes with impaired drivers occur in September and July, there are no months in which you are able to completely avoid the risk of an accident.
You may do your part by consistently driving sober, but this is not always enough. This holiday season and all year long, be alert for other drivers who may be impaired behind the wheel.