This 2022 holiday season, we again present our yearly column on the dangers of drinking and driving. Being that we are still enduring a difficult year because of the economy, inflation and continued COVID 19 concerns and flu variants, some of the stats are disturbing as a bit more driving is now taking place.
New for this column is a tip about collector cars and tires. Specifically, many collector muscle cars sit in garages with tires that are 10 to 25 years old. If you plan to give your muscle car a quick quarter-mile test, remember that tires wear out too, and it’s not always easy to see from tread wear. Tires can weaken from the inside, too. Look for bubbles and tire rot every time you give your classic a ride. Keep this in mind and give your muscle car some fresh rubber if you intend to spend a few nights at the area drag strips.
As for how things are going on our nation’s highways, accidents involving alcohol and marijuana increased by some 25-percent estimated. Alarming are the DUI fatalities, whereas even with full-year 2022 stats not yet available, it looks like driver fatalities are still very troublesome. Thanks to The Zebra, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), here are more troubling stats on drinking and driving.
About one-third of car crash fatalities in the U.S. involve drunk drivers. According to the NHTSA, each day about 28 people in America die in drunk-driving car crashes.
Over a 10-year period, more than 10,000 people die each year in drunk driving car accidents, says NHTSA. On a good note, two years ago drunk driving deaths in the United States reached its lowest level (10,142) since 1982, which is the year the NHTSA began collecting data on drunk driving fatalities.
Also according to NHTSA, drunk drivers face jail time when they’re caught, and the financial impact can be overwhelming. On average, a DUI can set you back $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, car towing, and more. And, drinking and driving can result in losing your driver’s license.
The yearly cost of alcohol-related car crashes is more than $44 billion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Alcohol-impaired drivers got behind the wheel of a car about 147 million times back in 2018, according to the CDC.
Just four years ago, 32% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes while driving at night were drunk, according to data from NHTSA. Further, almost twice as many alcohol-related and fatal car crashes occur during the weekend.
Based on averages, there are four male, alcohol-impaired drivers for every one female alcohol-impaired driver out on the road, says NHTSA.
Three years ago, there were 50,930 drivers involved in fatal car crashes, and an estimated 19% of the drivers were alcohol-impaired, according to NHTSA
As for age group demographics and probabilities, The Zebra is the nation’s leading car insurance comparison company that conducted a recent DUI survey (see www.thezebra.com). It found that 35.8-percent of Generation Y, (millennials) aged 25 to 39 are most likely to drink and drive. Next in line is Generation Z, aged 16 to 24 at 31.0-percent, followed by Generation X, aged 40 to 54, at 19.0-percent. Bringing up the rear are the Baby Boomers, aged 55 to 75, who come in at 14.1-percent.
Interesting is that near 40-percent of The Zebra respondents felt that the Baby Boomers would be the highest percentage of drink and drive offenders, yet they turned out to be the lowest DUI delinquent age group.
So as we continue through these troubled holiday weeks, we always present our “Saga of young Joe,” he the fun loving 26-year-old who is full of life, has lots of friends and is a good person. He loves to drive his 1970 Buick GSX, with its big 455-V8 under the hood. Because Joe lives in a warm climate state, taking his beauty out during the Christmas holiday is routine.
Joe could be your son, sibling, parent, friend, co-worker or husband. He’s having a great time at a family dinner and quickly volunteers to make a run to the supermarket for needed refreshment refills. Even though he’s had a beer too many, he feels OK to drive his beautiful GSX and is quickly on his way. It’s only 8 p.m. and thank goodness he’s alone.
Joe is oblivious that on this night he’ll become one of the 30,000-plus estimated drivers that will die in car accidents in 2021. He’s unaware he’s going 65-mph and approaching a curve that should be taken at 35-mph.
His reactions, meanwhile, have been diminished by his alcohol consumption and to make things worse, his cell phone starts ringing. Now Joe is really distracted and he’s going too fast to make the curve. He also forgot to buckle his seatbelt when he left his mom’s house and before Joe even knows it his GSX is off the road and headed directly toward a large tree.
There is no correcting. Joe’s GSX hits the tree head-on with a resounding crunch.
At 1/10th of a second, the car’s front bumper and grillwork collapse.
At 2/10ths of a second, the hood crumbles, rises, and smashes into the windshield. The grillwork now disintegrates.
At 3/10ths of a second, Joe is sprung upright from his seat. His legs are immediately broken, and his knees crash against the dashboard. The steering wheel bends under his grip.
At 4/10ths of a second, the front of the GSX is totally destroyed and is now completely still. However, the rear end of the car is still traveling at 55-mph, and the 600-pound V8 engine and accessories are crunched further into the tree.
At 5/10ths of a second, the impact rips Joe’s sneakers clean off his feet. The GSX’s chassis bends in the middle, and Joe’s head is slammed into the windshield. The car’s rear-end begins its downward fall as the spinning wheels churn into the ground.
At 6/10ths of a second, the entire body of the GSX is twisted out of shape while the front bucket seat continues to ram forward.
At 7/10ths of a second, Joe’s chest is pinned against the steering wheel shaft while his internal organs crash against his rib cage.
At 8/10ths of a second, Joe is dead.
He’s just become another fatal accident statistic.
The lesson to learn from Joe’s tragic ending? More than 25-percent of all traffic-related deaths are the direct result of alcohol impairment. Further some 800 people per day are injured in drunk driving crashes. (NHTSA)
In summary, if you plan to drive after having even a few beers or hard liquor drinks, be fully aware of the consequences. And, as many of my readers know, older muscle cars are not known for doing well in any type of impact. They just don’t offer the high-end safety that today is commonplace in our modern vehicles.
Next week, we’ll look at some more frightening driving stats, this time cell phone and texting while driving. Further, it’s not just the young drivers as both young and old who are so addicted they’ve become dangers on the highway.
Until then, be safe everyone and please don’t drink and drive.