Drinking alcohol and driving a car is a deadly combination.
The danger is clear:
- In the United States, someone is killed in an alcohol-related car accident every 30 minutes.
- Four out of ten fatal car accidents involve alcohol, according to the National Road Traffic Administration.
- Nearly 17,000 Americans died in alcohol-related car accidents in 2004.
The Dangerous Effects of Alcohol on Car Drivers
The fact is that anyone who is drinking should not get behind the wheel of a car. Driving a car requires concentration, coordination, ability to gauge distance and speed, common sense, and a concern for the safety of everyone on the road. Alcohol can impair these basic skills needed to operate a car safely.
All types of alcohol affect people's ability to drive a car. The same amount of alcohol – and the same potential for impairment or intoxication – results from either of these drinks:
- 12 oz beer can
- 5 ounces of wine glass
- 1.5 ounce shot of whiskey.
Some people mistakenly believe that coffee, cold bath, exercise or fresh air can sober them up. This is not true. The only thing that makes you sober is the weather.
The Risks of Driving a Car While Using Drugs
Drugs and medicines can be as dangerous as alcohol when mixed with driving. Illegal drugs are particularly risky because users cannot be sure of the content, purity or possible effects of these substances. Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can also impair your ability to drive safely. Some cold remedies, allergy medications, tranquilizers and pain killers can cause drowsiness. Diet pills and "stay up" medications can cause excitability or drowsiness.
Individuals have different reactions to the same drug, depending on their physical condition. Combinations of drugs or drugs with alcohol may have unexpected effects.
Protect yourself and others from traffic accidents
Never drink and drive a car.
If you plan to drink, select a designated non-drinking driver in advance. If not, hitch a ride, hail a cab, take a bus, or seek other assistance. In short, do whatever is necessary to avoid getting behind the wheel of a car if your driving could be impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Be a good friend if someone you know drinks or uses drugs. Do not let him try to operate a car. If necessary, remove the car keys from the person. Help your friend find a safe ride home or a place to sleep.
Never walk with anyone who is drinking or using drugs. Make sure the driver is completely sober before getting in the car.
Recognizing Drunk Drivers on the Road
Sometimes it is possible to recognize drivers who may be drinking or using drugs. Watch out for signs of a drunk driver. They can:
- Weave within the traffic range.
- Stroll from one track to another.
- Escape the sidewalk.
- Stop too fast or slow.
- Drive too fast or slow.
- Go through stop signs or other signs.
- Drive on the wrong side of the road.
These signs do not always mean that the driver of the car is intoxicated, but requires your full attention. When you are on the road near a potential drunk driver, place as much distance as possible between their car and their vehicle. If you are behind the vehicle, think twice before trying to pass. If you are in front of this car, allow room for the drunk driver to pass you. Watch out, as you may find the same car later on.
If possible, report the dangerous situation to the police. Call 911 and provide the emergency operator with a description and the drunk driver's license plate number and vehicle location.