Roadways are essential for people to get to work, home, school, the store, and everything in between. Unfortunately, at any moment, the road is one of the most dangerous places to be in all of North America. With the total economic toll of auto accidents on the U.S. economy being approximately $250 billion, it's clear that the roadway has the potential to severely impact property and life.
There are so many factors that make the roadways unsafe and lead to auto crashes. AAA conducted a four-year study proving that errant debris caused more than 200,000 roadway incidents. Inclement weather conditions can result in everything from minor fender benders to fatal accidents. And drivers making simple mistakes behind the wheel lead to accidents all over, as well.
The three most common causes of auto accidents are distracted driving, speeding, and the big one: drunk driving. Drunk and impaired driving remains an epidemic across both U.S. and Canada, costing the lives of both impaired drivers and innocent people each and every day. In 2017 alone, 10,874 people died in drunk driving crashes and more than 300,000 were injured -- that's one drunk driving death every 48 minutes.
Despite the severity of impaired driving, it still happens all the time. In fact, each day, people drive drunk almost 300,000 times, but fewer than 4,000 are arrested.
- Alcohol is a factor in three to four fatal car crashes each day in Canada
- Between 50% and 75% of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license.
- 15.5% of all alcohol-related fatalities in Canada occurred in crashes involving individuals who tested positive for both alcohol and drugs.
- Drunk driving costs each adult in the U.S. over $500 per year.
- In 2017, 9% of all drivers involved in fatal accidents during the day were drunk, compared to 32% at night.
- Every two minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash.
- About one-fourth of all fatal auto accidents in Toronto are alcohol-related.
- Auto accident the number 1 cause of death for Canadians ages 15 to 24; about 45% of those fatal accidents involve alcohol.
- On average, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.
So... what can be done? In a perfect world, everyone will take these statistics seriously, know the dangers of drunk driving, and never get behind the wheel after a drink or two. But, clearly, this is not a perfect world and much more work needs to be done.
There are, however, a few things you can do to either avoid impaired driving yourself or prevent someone near you from risking their lives and everyone else's. Here are some helpful tips for preventing your friend, family member, or yourself from getting behind the wheel after drinking:
- Select a reliable designated driver -- This is the most important job anyone can have at night. People who plan on drinking need to select a designated driver who will not drink -- no matter what.
- Take advantage of public transportation -- Rather than getting behind the wheel after drinking, people should rely on the bus, train, taxi services, Uber, Lyft, etc.
- Sleep there -- Having a few drinks at a friend's house? Don't even think about getting behind the wheel. Instead, sleep there and head home when you're sober. If you're at a bar or somewhere else, simply book a hotel room for the night because it will save you a lot of money in the long run and potentially your life.
- Call the cops -- If you feel like you can't help yourself or you notice someone is planning on drinking and driving no matter what you tried to do to stop them -- call the police. This might lead to some drama and an uncomfortable night, but it can save your life, your friend's life, or someone else on the road.
Drunk driving remains a serious issue across the U.S., Canada, and the entire world. As long as people are aware of the dangers and are working towards safer roadways, hopefully, awareness will continue to spread and the roads will be less dangerous than they are now.