Drunk driving never seems to end. Every year, tens of thousands of people get injured, and around 10,000 people die in DUI crashes. Someone passes away every 50 minutes. The annual cost is in excess of $44 billion.
But it still continues, year in and year out. People get behind the wheel after drinking at bars, at home or at social gatherings. Sometimes, it seems like everything we do in America is an excuse to drink: holiday parties, sporting events, trips to the beach, camping trips, gatherings with friends and far more.
And, much of the time, people who should not try to drive home decide to do just that.
Is it a cultural problem?
One man from Sweden argued that it was a cultural issue, that drunk driving is somehow accepted in the United States. It may be illegal, but we live with it every day. He said some people viewed their initial DUI arrests as basically a social rite of passage.
In Sweden, he claimed, most people would never drive drunk. He said they felt that drunk driving was extremely reckless and dangerous. As the stats show, that's true. But is there something about drivers in the United States that makes them ignore the facts?
The BAC limit
One potential reason, he pointed out, was that we have a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration limit in the United States, at least for most drivers in most states. Many European countries do not. They just use zero tolerance laws all the time, saying people cannot drive with any BAC. Having one beer puts them over the legal limit.
The man argued that American laws promote drunk driving because people often feel like they're "good to go" and they'll get in the car after a few drinks. Many of them are over the limit, but they do not realize it.
If the limit was 0.00, no one would ever think he or she was under it. Having one drink means getting a ride home. There's no gray area.
Not getting caught
Even that may not be enough to make the culture change, though. Some reports indicate that people drive while intoxicated an average of 80 times prior to getting arrested or crashing for the first time. They do not get caught. They keep taking risks. As long as people accept that drunk driving is something we are willing to tolerate, they will keep on taking those risks.
After a DUI accident
When you share the road with drunk drivers, you take on that risk. Accidents happen in seconds. If you suffer serious injuries in a crash that could so easily have been avoided, make sure you know what steps to take after the accident.