Driving Impairments Essay

2041 words - 8 pages - mendeleviumprogrammer ✓ Expert Reviewed

The year 2012 marked the first year that the United States saw an increase in vehicular crashes and fatalities after six consecutive years of declining numbers. The nation lost 33,561 people in crashes on roadways during the year 2012, compared to 32,479 in the year 2011. Driving is already a very dangerous activity, but once someone who is impaired decides to get behind the wheel, the likelihood of a crash is greatly increased, and the death count will continue to rise. In order to reduce the number of highway deaths, the many ways that impair one’s driving and judgment must be addressed.
First is alcohol and its effects on drivers. Alcohol is one of the ways many drivers are impaired. It acts as a central nervous system depressant and works to slow down the brain as well as the nervous system. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010 more than 10,000 people died due to alcohol impaired driving. That is the equivalent of one death every fifty-one minutes. However, driving while under the influence of alcohol does not only affect those old enough to drink or abuse it. Of the 1,210 traffic deaths among children ages 0-14 years of age in 2010, 211 (seventeen percent) involved an alcohol-impaired driver. A fatal crash is considered alcohol-related by NHTSA if either a driver or a non-occupant (e.g. a pedestrian) had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than or equal to 0.01 g/dl in a traffic crash reported to police. This means that there could have been several more alcohol related deaths that are unaccounted for because they were not reported to police. The BAC is a way of measuring how much alcohol is in a person’s blood stream. In the United States, BAC is measured by dividing grams of alcohol by 100 milliliters of blood. In 2004, many states had a legal BAC limit of 0.1%. With this legal limit, seventy-eight percent of people who were pulled over for suspected drunk driving were arrested for driving under the influence. Many states lowered the legal limit to 0.08% for those over twenty-one years old, and 0.02% for anyone under the age of twenty-one. Once changed, eighty-five percent of people pulled over for suspected impairment were arrested for being over the legal limit. In getting that many intoxicated drivers off the road, a number of traffic accidents have been avoided. Though no states have put it into effect as of yet, further reducing the legal limit to 0.05% has been shown to have the ability to greatly reduce alcohol related traffic accidents. Drivers with a BAC of only 0.02-0.05% are seven times more likely to die in a crash than sober drivers. For a female only weighing 160 pounds, it only takes one drink to reach that level of impairment. For a male weighing 180-200 pounds, it only takes two drinks. (1 drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine)
Many other addictive substances have been abused and can greatly inhibit driving ability. In the year 2001, males were twice as...

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