Driving while impaired by alcohol causes far too many injuries and deaths on the nation’s highways every year. A person is killed by a driver who is impaired by alcohol roughly every 50 minutes of every day, all year around, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s 29 people per day – nearly all entirely preventable.
But the dangers of drinking and driving is a frequently reiterated message. Yet it still continues to happen.
What excuses do people give for driving drunk? The Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) polled people whose blood alcohol content (BAC) registered 0.8% or more, which is the legal point at which people can be charged with a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest in most states, to find out, and this is what they found.
1. They think they are okay to drive.
Nearly half the people surveyed believed they were okay to drive. Presumably, this meant they did not feel inebriated and felt their judgment and reflexes were not impaired.
Remember, people who drink often don’t feel that they are as impaired as they are. Their own judgment and feelings can be affected by the alcohol and the circumstances surrounding it, should not be relied on.
2. They didn’t have far to drive.
Roughly 12% drove while drunk because they didn’t have far to drive.
Remember, many accidents occur within just a few miles of a driver’s home. Not having far to drive does nothing to diminish the possibility and severity of accidents.
3. They felt they could make it home if they were careful.
Approximately 10% of respondents felt they could make it home if they drove carefully. But carefully, of course, is relative. Drivers whose BAC is over the legal limit may feel they are driving very carefully. In fact, they could be weaving down the road.
It’s also true that many people feel social pressure to drink – and perhaps drink to excess – at certain times of the year. At this time of year, when social events are frequent and often include alcohol, it’s important to reiterate this message: drivers should not drink to excess, at parties or any other time.
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- NHTSA. Traffic Tech. Why People Drink and Drive: Study Looks At Decisions That Lead to Impaired Driving. Number 91, April 1995. https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/outreach/traftech/1995/TT094.htm.
- Survey: People Have Reasons for Drunk Driving. Dumb Ones. LifeSaver. January 4, 2018. https://www.lifesafer.com/blog/people-have-reasons-for-drunk-driving/.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Motor Vehicle Safety. Impaired Safety. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/index.html.