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The act of operating a motor vehicle or any other machine that involves transportation of passengers or oneself under the influence of alcohol or any other drug that causes mental impairment can be termed as drunk driving. Drunk driving is illegal on the land of the US; however, laws in different states vary. Drunk driving has been a menace of late in the US. Even though the government is doing much that it can to curb such illegal act, still much has to be done. Different human rights organizations have though accused the government’s approach to dealing with drunk drivers. Debates have thus arisen on whether the government is doing enough to curb the act or if it is lagging behind. With different opinions from different views, this article will discuss whether the government should employ more aggressive means for preventing drunk driving. The paper will also discuss whether the government is already doing enough to deal with a drunk driving.
According to NHTSA (2003), drunk driving causes the most frequently committed violence in the US. This study showed that most of the illegal acts done on the major highways were due to alcohol-impaired driving. NHTSA (2008) further stated that at every forty minutes, on average one person is killed by a drunk driver. In 2007, NHTSA did a study that showed that nearly 13,000 people were killed in crashes that were related to drunk driving. These studies thus give a point to worry about when one thinks of traveling along the major highways. Shocks of fear should thus be running down any American citizen who is reading this report.
Blincoe, Seay (2002), in their study noted that, each year, approximately half a million American citizens are injured in crashes where the police reported an involvement of the alcohol. From this study, one can conclude that each minute, an American citizen get injured in crashes related to drunk driving. A study conducted by NHTSA (2001) also reported that an estimated three out of ten Americans will get involved in cases related to drunk driving at one moment or the other in their entire lifetime.
The taxpayers have also been on the losing side of the ever rising cases of drunk driving. Taylor et al. (2002) in their research realized that the alcohol-related crashes cost the public an estimated $114.3 billion annually. This is a large amount of money that is capable of constructing a railway line and purchase a bullet train. The value included the loss of an estimated $63.2 billion of quality life in the crashes.
NHTSA (2008) noted that most of the arrests done on a drunk driver was high on those who did not have valid driving licenses. It, however, noted an alarming rise on the arrest on those who had the licenses. The study reported that 1 out of 139 licensed drivers will be arrested annually due to drunk driving. In 2006 only, about 1.46 million drivers in the US were arrested due to cases involving drunk driving. A number of the drivers arrested due to drunk driving has, however, found itself rising instead of reducing. With this rise in the number, one will not be amused one day to hear that the number has risen to billions. The drunken driving cases are bringing the jam in our corridors of justice as most of the courts find themselves attending to many cases daily.
These cases of drunken driving have a long history. Back in 1995, Zador et al. (1995) in their study, reported that there is one arrest made for driving under intoxication after every 772 periods of driving after drinking for two hours. Additionally, the findings further reported 88 episodes of driving over the illegal limit in the U.S. the long history, thereby, simply indicates that the government is not doing enough to curb this illegal act. With the number of arrest episodes rising as the days goes on, the U.S government strives it best to identify the best approach to use to curb the menace.
The consequences of drunk driving are wide and varied and extend to other passengers, drivers, and families. Associating with a drunk driver is not physically and financially challenging but also associated with difficult emotional consequences. Hingson and Winter (2003) posit that most traffic crashes occur as a consequence of alcohol consumption because they fail to wear safety belts. Any victim of drunk driving is likely to develop stress disorders such as unpleasant memories and depression every time they remember visions from the scene. As such, they level of awareness and thoughts are constantly affected by thoughts from the accident if they were involved in one. Mann et al. (2006) states that drunk driving is associated with adverse negative consequences. In their study, the found out that multiple drinkers were associated with one form of psychometric and clinical condition. Other emotional issues associated with drunk driving include difficulty in concentrating, exercising increased or over levels of caution, and lack of confidence. The emotional issues are far much worse when a case of drunk driving led to the death of a loved one. It often causes increased traumatic experiences.
The worst thing is that most drivers can think rationally and understand the dangers associated with drunk driving and cell phone use. However, alcohol consumption inhibits their ability to think logically and fail to avoid engaging in activities that could affect their ability to drive. There is no way that a drunk driver could be able to keep their thoughts, mind, and emotions under control. This lack of control is a serious inhibit to driving safety. As long as one must have to drink, a designated driver should always be a phone call away to take charge of the situation.
United States government has done much that it can to curb drunk driving. The current laws that involve the use of ignition locker have gained popularity in most of the states. Ignition locker is a device that is installed in the car and can detect whether the driver was drinking. In the case yes, the device will lock the ignition system making the car not to start. The device was made by human and, in that case, the car is prone to vandalism. Most of the drivers have found themselves on the wrong side of the law by vandalizing the gadget. Ignition interlocks have thus not been effective all the time. Reports indicate that some drunken driving cases have been reported even with the involved cars having ignition interlocks fitted with them.
Apart from the use of ignition interlocks, the governments of all states including the District of Columbia are employing a technique called blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The system that is used to gauge the volume of alcohol contained in a breath of the driver is employed. If the driver’s breath is found to contain more than 0.08 percent of the alcohol, the driver’s license is suspended. This law has been of greater impact on curbing the drunken driving. However, 0.08 percent is still higher. With this percentage, someone is still not fit to be considered sober. The government thus needs to make the percentage the utmost lower level. The different laws that govern the license suspension act are also a factor to blame. Different states deal with the offenders in a different manner. Most of the states suspend the license before convicting the offender whereas other states convict the offender before suspending the license. Convicting the offender before suspending the license has found itself as not the most appropriate. An offender can cause double trouble even with the case pending in the corridors of justice.
The US government thus stands no chance to ignore these rising cases of drunk driving. Drunk driving is associated with huge losses related to drunk driving. The following opinions are thus given on how the government will minimize drunken driving.
First, the alcohol breath percentage through (BAC) should be reduced to 0.05% from 0.08%t. This reduction in the percentage will help in reducing the cases where drivers drink then drive. Tougher penalties should thus be imposed on those who are found to go against these laws. Imprisonment penalty of not less than thirty-six month should be adopted instead. The tradition of fines against those who break the law should not be adopted since those who get involved in the cases mostly find themselves in a position to pay the fine and later make the same offense.
Second, ignition interlocks should be fitted in all cars operating in the major cities and even in the countryside. All cars should then have a system check after every three months to ascertain the performance of the ignition lockers. Those found to have violated the rules and or have vandalized the system should face the law. Such a driver’s licenses should be held for not less than twelve months before being allowed to drive again.
Harsh laws, however, are never effective all the time. Community awareness of the effect of alcohol should be launched. Right from primary school to the University, pupils should be taught on the effect of drug abuse. Having a healthy generation that has full awareness of the drug abuse, will be a double-edged sword in the fight against drunk driving. Apart from the effects of drug abuse, the public also need to be taught on the laws that govern traffic.
Increasing taxation on alcohol can, on the other hand, be a blessing. Statistics shows that drivers drink much due to the cheap prices of the alcohol. Increasing the unit price of the alcohol will mean that one will need to dig deep into his pocket to buy alcohol. The rate of drinking will hence have a significant drop that can save the day.
Each and every citizen, however, has a role to play to make sure that our country is free from drink and drive. If by any chance you are hosting a party, you should inform your guest to designate a sober driver who will afterward drive them home. A sober driver cannot be an option on some occasions as one can also decide not to serve alcoholic beverages. No one should let a friend drink and drive. One can opt to take the friends car keys away in that case.
Most cases of drunk driving have happened in situations where friends go out for drinks in a group. This is not bad after all. However, being one’s brother’s keeper will be important. No friend should let the other drink and later drive. If it is beyond avoiding, then a designated driver should be hired. Taking a taxi home can also, on the other hand, be a solution
The challenge of drunken driving should, however, not be let to the government alone. It will be easy to say that tougher laws on drunken driving will curb the situation before considering different factors. With the public well educated on the effects of alcohol abuse and are conversant with the laws governing traffic, the government is well to go on with imposing such laws.
It is worth concluding that the government should impose more aggressive laws that will curb the drink-driving in the country. Such laws would deter drivers from engaging in drunk driving because it not only endangers their lives but also endangers the lives of other motorists. However, caution should be taken while coming up with such laws. Human rights and freedom should be considered, and any law that would go against the freedom of the people will not be termed fit. A user-friendly law that will see this killer act reduced will thus be welcomed.
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