The second topic of our "Most Wanted Safety Improvement" series is drunk driving accidents. So much has been done to improve awareness over the years but drunk driving accidents in Charlotte, Asheville and elsewhere continue to be a serious threat to the welfare of all motorists.
The National Transportation Safety Board recently released a most wanted list emphasizing areas of improvement that need to be addressed in order to progress the safety of all Americans.
Other topics we will be hitting on in a four-part series are motorcycle accidents, teen safe driving, and bus accidents. Our Asheville personal injury lawyers find it almost unfathomable that someone dies every 48 minutes in the United States from a drunk driving accident.
Approximately a third of highway deaths in 2009 were at the hands of a drunk driver, causing 10,839 deaths nationwide. The number of overall traffic fatalities has decreased in recent years but drunk driving crashes have continued to be the cause of approximately 30 percent or more fatalities each year in the last 10 years.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it is estimated that an impaired driver gets behind the wheel 88 times before being arrested for driving under the influence. This equates to 88 opportunities of putting another motorist's life in danger because the impaired driver may veer left of the center line, miss a stop sign, or speed past another vehicle and cause a collision. This doesn't begin to cover the number of times an impaired driver gets behind the wheel following an arrest.
Over the years, stricter laws have been mandated statewide. Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Students Against Drunk Driving, and International Drunk Driving Prevention Association have continued to create awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving.
Yet motorists still continue to make poor decisions when choosing to get behind the wheel impaired. The NTSB considers the issue quite complex and thinks the answer is to treat every case individually and know that no single countermeasure will effectively work across the board.
Sobriety checkpoints and revoking an impaired driver's license are programs that can help discourage drinking and driving. The problem is habitual drunk drivers are just that; they have formed a habit of making bad choices to get behind the wheel to operate a vehicle while under the influence. Reducing the option to plea bargain, requiring a habitual offender to seek treatment, and holding an impaired driver responsible to make a behavior change are all standards to be considered in the future.
We posted previously on our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog that new technology currently in the developmental stages could be the answer to eliminating habitual drunk driving in the future.
Advocates opposed to drunk driving are optimistic that the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) is an important step to saving lives and eliminating the risk of drunk drivers by having a device installed by automakers that would not allow an impaired driver to start the vehicle. Making the DADSS device standard in all vehicles will likely keep drunk drivers off the streets and keep motorists safer.