Why Are Drunk Drivers More Dangerous on Tampa’s Roads?

Most of us know operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs and alcohol is dangerous. Alcohol-related crashes are often deadly or can lead to permanently disabling injury. Why, exactly, are drunk drivers so dangerous to everyone else? Here’s what you need to know about the dangers they pose, as well as how you can protect yourself from harm.

The Dangers of Drunk Driving

Being even a little over the legal blood alcohol limit can lead to serious consequences. For example, a driver with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of at least .10 is approximately seven times likelier to be in a fatal motor vehicle accident than someone who has not had any alcohol. Further, a person with a BAC over .15 is about 25 times more likely to be in a fatal car accident.

Even if a person drives within the legal BAC limit of .08, he or she is still more likely to cause car accidents. For example, a person weighing 160 pounds can drink around two, 12-ounce beers in an hour and still have a BAC well within the legal limits. This person is still nearly 1.5 times more likely to be in a car accident than someone who has had no alcohol at all.

One of the problems with the legal limit is people believe if their BAC under .08, they can still operate a motor vehicle like a sober person. This simply isn’t the case for most people, because impairment begins long before the threshold of .08 sets in.

Some scientific research shows, in fact, that impairment can begin at BAC levels as low as .02. Scientists have noted drivers at this level begin to have difficulty tracking objects and struggle to multitask.

Safe and effective driving requires three different types of attention:

  • Manual attention requires that we put our hands on the wheel and move it accordingly to make turns and drive in a straight line. We must also operate the gas and brake pedals to maintain appropriate speed.
  • Cognitive attention requires us to use our brains to process information regarding speed limits, traffic signals, and to address potential hazards.
  • Visual attention refers to our ability to track objects, see other roads and people, and identify potential issues.

Drunk drivers can experience problems with all these areas: They lose their ability to track effectively; they experience impaired judgment and slower reaction times; and they experience delays in motor functioning. Together, these can present serious issues to other motorists on the road.

Protecting Yourself From Drunk Driving Accidents

A few tips can help reduce your risk of being in an accident with a drunk driver. To improve your safety on Tampa’s roadways:

  • Always designate a driver when going to celebrations and other summer festivities. This driver should remain completely sober throughout the night, drinking water or other nonalcoholic beverages. Remember, impairment can set in with a BAC as low as .02.
  • Avoid driving late at night, if possible. Drunk driving accidents are most likely to occur in the late evening and early morning hours, so try not to be on the roads during these times if possible to reduce your risk of accident.
  • If you see it, report it. Be wary of the telltale signs of drunk driving, such as weaving in and out of lanes or driving too slowly. Give yourself a wide berth and contact your local police department with a description of the vehicle.

Drunk driving presents a danger to everyone on Tampa’s roadways. Fortunately, you can take some basic steps to protect yourself from being in a crash, such as designating a driver and avoiding the peak times for drunk driving accidents in the city.