Dangerous Roads – Drinking and Driving Still a Hazard in North Carolina

Drinking and driving occurs about 300,000 times a day in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), translating into 112 million episodes a year. "The four million adults who drink and drive each year put everyone on the road at risk," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H, in an article for OHSonline.com. "In fact, nearly 11,000 people are killed every year in crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver."

With St. Patrick's Day around the corner, the risk of getting hurt or killed in a drunk driving accident just got higher. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 103 people were killed in car accidents on St. Patrick's Day in 2009.

Risky Behavior Tied to Increase in Drunk Driving

Nationally, drinking and driving episodes have declined 30 percent over the past five years, according to CDC.com, but in North Carolina the problem remains. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), alcohol related fatalities rose 8.4 percent in 2010, with 388 fatalities.

Now research is showing that certain population groups are more likely to put others in danger by getting behind the wheel. According to the CDC's 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey:

• 81 percent of drinking and driving incidents were committed by men

• Men aged 21 to 34 were responsible for 32 percent of all drinking and driving episodes

• Binge drinkers - men consuming five or more drinks or women consuming four or more drinks - reported 85 percent of drinking and driving episodes.

The numbers reflect a disturbingly permissive attitude of thrill-seeking young men, who favor a good time over the potential devastation to another person's life. There is simply no excuse for drunk driving.

Proven Strategies Curb Alcohol-Impaired Driving

The following measures have been shown to be the most effective at curbing drunk driving accidents over holidays.

• Sobriety checkpoints that stop drivers to assess their impairment save 1,500 to 3,000 lives a year, according to the Transportation Research Board.

• Nationwide laws that outlaw the sale or consumption of alcohol for those under 21 limits drinking by inexperienced drivers.

• Ignition interlocks, which prevent convicted alcohol-impaired drivers from driving after drinking, reduce re-arrest rates by about two-thirds, according to the CDC.

• If all else fails, staying buckled up offers protection. According to CDC.com, seat belts reduce crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50 percent.

There is nothing that gives anyone the right to endanger another person's life. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case and determine your options.