According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29 people die every day in the United States in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This is one death every 50 minutes. Age plays an important factor in those statistics. In the most recent data presented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the highest percentage of drunk drivers was for those ages 21 to 24 (27 percent), followed by ages 24 to 34 (26 percent) and 35 to 44 (23 percent). Gender also affects drunk driving behaviors. In 2018, 21 percent of men were drunk in these crashes, compared to 14 percent for women.
Men have long been associated with risky behavior. For that reason, they pay higher insurance rates because there is a perceived higher accident rate. Men are more likely than women to be driving drunk in fatal crashes, but recent studies indicate that women are rapidly closing the gap.
Another perpetuated stereotype suggests that women are bad drivers, however evidence shows males account for most of the U.S. traffic fatalities. Brad says, “This is just one of many false stereotypes regarding men and women. Throughout history, women have often been treated or considered second-class citizens. The driving issue is just another way to perpetuate that mentality.”
There is no question that biology influences impairment. A person’s weight and the rate at which alcohol is metabolized by the body top the list of impairment factors. Women are at a disadvantage on this account. They are generally smaller than men, with less overall body weight and have higher storage of body fat where alcohol is stored. This leads to longer effects of alcohol when drinking. Generally speaking, because women are smaller, they generally have less water and consequently experience higher concentrations of alcohol in their blood when consuming similar amounts to their male counterparts.
Another key difference is that men benefit from increased production of the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme, which helps break down alcohol before it even reaches the bloodstream. This makes men significantly more tolerant to alcohol consumption.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, alcohol consumption has increased. Preliminary research shows that women have been more affected with heavy drinking, increasing 41 percent. Brad says, “You would think that drunk driving would be down during this time because there are less people commuting on roadways, and bars have been closed or reduced in capacity. I believe the increase in alcohol consumption is a trend that may reverse itself once we emerge from this pandemic.”
In a recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) study examining gender and alcohol consumption, it was noted that women tend to stress more than men and have a higher incidence of anxiety. Whereas men tend to begin drinking socially, women appear to consume alcohol as part of a coping strategy to handle stress and anxiety.
If age brings experience, then it seems obvious that youth brings inexperience. A young driver of 16 or 17 will not have the same decision-making capabilities as a driver with decades of driving. The consequences of drinking and getting behind the wheel can be catastrophic for young drivers. It could prevent them from getting a job or into a college. If a student relies on financial aid, there are some types that will be denied with a conviction on record. Failing to disclose DWI conviction information in the application process can also result in job loss.
Underage DWI Statistics
- A teen is at higher risk to be in a car accident during the first year of driving due to lack of experience.
- Car accidents are the number one killer of teens in the United States.
- Adults are four times more likely not to sustain serious injury or die in a car accident than teens.
- Alcohol as being a factor in one-third of all teenage automobile fatalities.
- Eight teens die every day in DWI/DUI related automobile crashes.
- Teens under the influence of alcohol, at any blood alcohol content level are at a higher risk of being in a car accident than older drivers. Just because an adult drank one beer and then was alright to drive a couple of hours later does not mean a teenager can. Teens are still growing and developing so the effects are stronger and last longer.
- Teen alcohol related automobile accidents spikes during the nighttime hours of 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
- Teen alcohol related automobile accidents are higher on weekends than on weekdays.
- Binge Drinking – According to blood alcohol content (BAC) records of victims involved in intoxicated automobile accidents, underage drinkers are noted to binge drink. On average the BAC level is five times the legal limit.
- Seatbelt Unused – Underage drinkers are reckless going unrestrained by their seatbelt. At the point of impact, 74 percent of under 21 years old drunk drivers in fatal car accidents were not wearing a seatbelt.
Studies have also shown that 50 percent of teenagers who die in car accidents are, in fact, passengers, not drivers. “As a parent, it’s important to talk to your kids and let them know they can reach you anytime to come and pick them up. Set up an Uber or Lyft account for your kids, especially if they are college-aged, so they don’t ever feel obligated to get in the car with a drunk driver.”
Deterring Drunk Driving
Drunk driver statistics from the NHTSA have shown that for every drunk driving arrest, another 500 incidents go unpunished. In fact, the average drunk driver will operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol 80 times before finally getting arrested and charged with their first DWI.
Texas already has strict punishments related to drunk driving, but could more severe penalties make people think twice before hitting the road when intoxicated? Brad doesn’t think so. “You may have a sub-group that would be deterred by stricter penalties, but most people who drink and drive are not thinking rationally about the repercussions. Education is much more effective than punishment in my opinion,” he says.
Effective measures to deter drunk driving include:
- Actively enforcing existing 0.08 percent BAC laws, minimum legal drinking age laws, and zero tolerance laws for drivers younger than 21 years old in all states.
- Requiring ignition interlocks for all offenders, including first-time offenders.
- Using sobriety checkpoints.
- Putting health promotion efforts into practice that influence economic, organizational, policy, and school/community action.
- Using community-based approaches to alcohol control and DWI prevention.
- Requiring mandatory substance abuse assessment and treatment, if needed, for DWI offenders.
- Raising the unit price of alcohol by increasing taxes.
- Designating a non-drinking driver when with a group.
- Using a ride share service or calling a taxi.
Alcohol-Related Health Risks for Women
- Women who drink at least one glass of alcohol per day are more likely to develop breast cancer than those who do not consume alcohol.
- Women who drink suffer greater risks of heart disease and liver inflammation than men.
- It takes less alcohol to affect a woman, than a man, making women more vulnerable to sexual assault and other alcohol-related violence or disease.
- Women who drink alcohol regularly may experience changes in their menstrual cycle.
- Since one in two women who consume alcohol are of childbearing age, women face an increased risk in unintended pregnancy and health risks to babies born to drinking mothers.
Alcohol-Related Health Risks for Men
- Men who consume alcohol are more likely to commit suicide than women who consume similar quantities.
- Alcohol abuse can cause sexual dysfunction as well as reduced fertility.
- Men are likely to behave more aggressively while drinking, increasing the risk of physical or sexual assault and related legal consequences.
- Men are significantly more likely to be involved in and injured or killed in motor-related accidents than women when they drink.
- Men are more likely to engage in binge drinking, which carries a whole host of adverse health effects including brain damage, ulcers, nerve damage, and increase in the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular complications.
- Men tend to see elevated blood pressure before women when consuming alcohol.
Have You Been Injured In A Texas Area Car Accident?
If you've been injured in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Bedford, Texas office directly at 817.440.3888 to schedule your free consultation.
At Parker Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe people matter. We are committed to our clients, not case numbers, and we believe in the power of the civil justice system. With years spent both representing accident victims and participating in the state legislative process, our founder, Brad Parker, has developed a deep understanding of the law and gained unique experience that helps him get results for his clients.