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Avoiding Injury, Car Accidents, and Drunk Drivers this New Years Eve

On a regular basis, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides extensive information regarding vehicle safety and driving best practices. Part of that dissemination is educating the general public just before each holiday as to the dangers they should avoid and how. This usually comes with a statistical analysis of the data. I love that stuff and I thought I'd share with you a summary.

Statistically speaking, the holiday season has offensively high numbers in regards to deaths and injuries related to alcohol consumption. Yet, the behavior continues. People get wrapped up in the holiday season and ordinarily drink alcohol in places other than their homes as a result of holiday parties with friends, family, or work colleagues. It is a difficult problem to correct. But, let's take a look at the numbers and then discuss some ways that both you and the government can make things safer this holiday in the years ahead. First the statistics.

Do you have any idea just how many people are killed as a result of alcohol consumption during holiday season? Let's look at the year as a whole and go from there. The NHTSA reports that in 2012, deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers increased 4.6%. The number in 2011 was 9,865. In 2012 the number was 10,322. That number may seem somewhat abstract because it's dealing with the entire country over the entire year. Let's do some simple math to try to make the number more real. If we take the 2012 number of 10,322, divided by 52 states, we get an average of 206 deaths related to alcohol per state per year. If we divide that further by 52 weeks in a year, we get about four deaths per state per week per year. That's more real to me.

If we look strictly at the last holiday season alone, there were 830 people killed in drunk driving accidents in which the blood alcohol content was .15 or higher. That's just during holiday season in 2012. And I think we would be remiss in characterizing all the deaths as the drunk people. Remember, many of those deaths are sober individuals who were killed as a result of the drunk driver's behavior.

The NHTSA also releases information regarding the percentage of driving deaths which occurred as a result of intoxication broken down by holiday. If you go to the NHTSA's website, you'll see there's all sorts of information, data, infographics which really clearly illustrates these points. But to give you a sense, almost 2 of every five deaths that occurred around the New Year's holiday in 2012 were due to alcohol impaired drivers. The percentage is high for Christmas, at 37%, but New Year's has the highest percentage for the entire year.

We have all heard the commercials, the public safety announcements, and we've all been exposed, to some degree, to the educational materials that the NHTSA and state agencies have put out. We all know that our judgment gets impaired when we consume alcohol. We know that coffee doesn't sober us up. And, for the most part, we know when we are on our way to a holiday party alone, that we are almost certainly the one who will be responsible for getting us home that night. The fact is, this element of human behavior is simply not going to significantly change as a result of education or potential negative outcome. If we want to change things on a human level, we should be looking out for each other. We should take action to help our friends, family, and colleagues avoid the danger of drunk driving.

If you have a hard time stepping in and confronting the dangers associated with drunk driving (don't worry, it's obviously a wide-spread issue) and feel a stronger control is really necessary to change people's behavior, then you are in luck. Let me take a moment and tell you about ignition interlock devices.

Ignition interlock device is a tool that is installed on the vehicle that allows the ignition of the vehicle to start only after the driver has blown a passing breath sample into a blood alcohol measuring device. These devices have been used for years in most all states across the country and in many countries around the world. Recently, a model ignition interlock device program was developed and distributed by the national Highway transportation safety administration. This provides consistency for all states and developments of programs. And we know these programs work because the NHTSA has analyzed the data. NHTSA has found that convicted drunk drivers with interlock systems installed are 75% less likely to re-offend.

Okay, so you're logically thinking that's great. But, you're also thinking that an ignition interlock device is not going to stop someone who has not yet been caught drunk driving. And, those people are likely the people the cause of many of the accidents resulting in death. Well that's true, but let's take a step back and think about the evolution of technology. Technology is developing at an all time high and that evolution will continue at a faster rate as time goes on. We've seen it in almost every type of industry. It is foreseeable that the evolution of this type of technology into vehicles on a mass production basis. We've had a trend over the past hundred years of vehicles becoming safer. It is logical, that when the technology is available for vehicles to simply not be able to start when the operator is intoxicated, that technology will be employed on a mass-market basis.

It is also well accepted that there are car manufacturers developing vehicles which will be driver-less. That means, the cars will actually drive themselves. That's another clear solution path. Although the technology is still in development, the laws have not really caught up on a national scale. But they will.

Between these two technologies, over the next 20 years, drunk driving will essentially disappear. The vehicles will simply not operate if there is an intoxicated driver behind the wheel. Or, the vehicle will simply take over operation and will bring you home safely. It is something to look forward to. But we are not there yet. Until we are, take great care to look out for yourself and others when consuming alcohol. If you know you're going to have to drive, consumed the alcohol safely and don't drive until it is safe to do so. It's a good practice to discuss this issue before anyone consumes alcohol.

We are personal injury lawyers handling personal injury cases for those who have been injured or the families of those who've been killed in car accidents. Those cases include instances in which our client, the injured party, has been injured as a result of someone else's impaired driving. Oftentimes the impairment is caused by the consumption of alcohol. We read the police reports and the medical reports. We help our clients through the process from beginning to end. But unfortunately, the injuries are so often severe. The best way to deal with a severe injury is to avoid it altogether. Be safe this holiday season, particularly on New Year's Eve.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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