More than 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-related vehicle crashes in 2012, according to recent data released by the CDC.
The report, released in January, found that younger people were most at risk of being involved in a drunk driving crash. One out of every three drivers with blood alcohol levels of 0.08% or higher involved in fatal crashes were between 21 and 24 years of age. Of the 1,168 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 in 2012, 239, or 20% involved a drunk driver, the CDC stated. More than half of those children were riding with the alcohol-impaired driver.
Having a prior conviction for drinking and driving also was a factor, with drivers who had BAC levels of 0.08% or higher being seven times more likely to have a prior conviction for DWI. Motorcyclists also were shown to be at risk of fatal alcohol-related crashes, with 29% of motorcyclists killed in crashes having BAC levels of 0.08% or higher. Among CDC recommendations for reducing impaired driving incidents are enforcing existing 0.08% BAC laws, minimum drinking age laws and zero tolerance laws for drivers younger than 21 in all states, sobriety checkpoints, immediate loss of drivers licenses for people who get behind the wheel intoxicated and raising the price of alcohol by increasing taxes.
The CDC also recommends continued research on reducing the illegal BAC threshold to 0.05% and having mandatory blood alcohol testing in crashes that result in injuries.
At blood alcohol levels as low as .02, according to CDC data, people already can experience some loss of judgement, altered mood, decline in visual functions, such as rapid tracking of a moving target and a decline in the ability to perform two tasks at the same time. By .05% a person could have loss of small-muscle control, such as focusing the eyes, lowered alertness, reduced coordination, difficulty steering and a reduced response to emergency driving situations. Even one drink can impair driving ability and increase the chances of a crash, according to the CDC, and people making plans that involve consuming alcohol should plan ahead so they wont be drinking and driving.
Overall, the CDC noted, nearly 30 people in the U.S. die every day in motor vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver, with one death every 51 minutes. Read the full report at http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html.