Physical Well-Being: Drinking and Driving
There are a few reasons I picked a subject within the dimension of physical well-being. I think all people should look after their bodies and try to be healthy and in shape. The physical component is one of my strongest out of the five components, therefore, it is one of the most important to me.
The main reason I chose the subject of drinking and driving is because it affects us all. Children, teen-agers, adults, seniors, drinkers, and also non-drinkers are all involved. If someone on the road is driving while under the influence of alcohol, any type of person can be the victim of the drunk s actions.
I believe it is important for me to have knowledge on this issue, and teens in general as well. Many of my friends are now getting their driver s licenses, and alcohol being around the people I know is becoming a lot more common. Since we are getting older, it is easier to obtain and more likely to be at parties and such.
Another reason for my research on drunk driving is that my dad is a lawyer who specializes in motor-vehicle accidents. Through this, I have heard all the stories of how much pain and suffering a car crash can cause. This pain is physical and emotional, and it can last a lifetime. When one of the drivers was drunk, the crash is more significant since it was so predictable and preventable.
Drinking and Driving
Drinking and driving is a very serious problem in Canada. It causes more deaths and injuries than all murderers, muggers, rapists and robbers combined.
Drinking has a very dramatic effect on our bodies, and this is proven through all the death statistics on drinking and driving in Canada. For example, after 3 typical alcoholic drinks, an average male adult would have a blood alcohol level of 0.06%. At this level, the drinker would have a mild feeling of happiness, or the reverse- a slight depression. At 0.1% though, some motor areas of the brain are already affected- speech is slurred and reflexes are slower. A level of 0.2% depresses all of the motor areas, and emotions are seriously affected. If your blood alcohol level reaches 0.45%, this may result in a coma. A level of 0.7% may result in death.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, it is an offence to be in control of a vehicle if your blood alcohol content exceeds 80 mg of alcohol in 100 mL of blood (over 0.08%). It is also an offence if your ability to operate the vehicle is impaired by alcohol, whether or not your blood alcohol level exceeds 0.08.
The Criminal Code also requires a breath or blood sample when asked to do so by a police officer. These criminal charges have heavy penalties. They range from large fines and licence suspensions to long jail terms.
More than 1 700 Canadians die every year at the hands of drunk drivers. Over 250 of these are Albertans. Someone is killed every 6 hours by an impaired driver, and every 20 minutes, someone falls victim (fatal and non-fatal injuries) to an impaired driver. 45% of all traffic fatalities in a year involve alcohol.
In Canada in 1995, 20.4% of the drivers in fatal collisions were impaired by alcohol. This is compared to the 9.6% of drivers in non-fatal collisions who were impaired. As you can see, the more severe the collision was, the more alcohol was involved.
The most likely group of drivers to have been impaired before a crash are young males. In alcohol-related collisions, males are five times more likely to have been the driver than are females. When looking at the involvement per 1 000 licensed drivers, males between 18 and 21 years old were the most likely to have been drinking before the crash.
Collisions involving alcohol go up on weekends, very early in the morning, and also during summer months. In 1995, the month of July had the highest number of alcohol-related fatal collisions, with 16.5% of the total.
The most fatal and non-fatal-injury collisions related to alcohol occur on Saturdays, between 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.
Drunk driving is a large cost to society as well. There is not only the physical and emotional costs of the victims and of their families, but also the financial cost. Drunk driving costs of country tens of millions of dollars each year in court costs, rehabilitation, health care and social programs.
Preventing Drinking and Driving
There are many ways that we can prevent this serious and fatal problem. The best way is to know your limit- most people are able to have one drink per hour without any ill effects. Other ways to drink responsibly are to eat food at the time, sip (not gulp) your drinks, accept a drink only when you want one and to alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
If you do find yourself drunk, there are always other options than driving. First, before going to a party or social function, pick a designated driver. You can take the bus or a taxi home and pick up your car the next day. Spend the night if you are at a friend s place, so the alcohol can leave your system. Finally, you can always call a friend or your parents to have them pick you up. I believe they would rather want the inconvenience of coming to get you, then having you injured, or worse, dead.
There are numerous organizations and programs throughout Canada that are working towards diminishing Canada s drinking and driving problem:
This is a high profile public awareness campaign that encourages the public to report drivers that they suspect are impaired to the police. Information posters are placed in many communities centers, convenience stores and gas stations, describing the program.
MADD stands for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Their goal is to make people aware about the dangers of impaired driving, and to offer aid and counseling to its victims. This volunteer-driven organization also has support groups for those who have lost someone by a drunk driver. It has over 2.5 million supporters across the country. Other organizations similar to this one are PAID ( People Against Impaired Driving) and SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving).
This program offers rides home from anywhere around Edmonton, during the Christmas and New Year season if you are impaired. This has a lot of potential since drivers will receive a safe ride home, and it will not cost them anything.
Lately there have been numerous advertising campaign targeting the problem of drinking and driving. These commercials are very realistic and are sometimes gory and graphic, when portraying a crash site for example.
Creative slogans are used such as Think and Drive and If you drink and drive, you re a bloody idiot.
Designated Driver Programs:
These programs are becoming more and more popular in restaurants and bars. This allows the bartender or waiter to make a judgement on whether the patron is sober enough to drive safely. They may call a cab for the one who is drunk, or encourage their friends to provide a safe ride home.
This is perhaps the most famous organization when it comes to alcoholism. It does not deal specifically with impaired driving, but it touches the subject indirectly, for those who are alcoholics may very well drink and drive.
Personal Action Plan
There are many steps I can take to prevent myself from being in the dangers of drinking and driving. First of all, I will always try to be sober on most occasions. When I do have I few social drinks (when I am older, of course) I will not let myself get too drunk as to not be able to make smart, conscious decisions. I will know my personal limit and the proper time to stop drinking. I won t take any unfamiliar drinks, such as alcoholic fruit drinks, since I would not be totally sure of the alcohol content in them.
There are many things I also must do when my friends around me have been drinking. I will not let my friends drive drunk, even if it means physically taking their keys and driving them myself. I will certainly not let myself get into a car where the driver is drunk.
If I am hosting a party when I am older, there are many things I will do to prevent drunk driving. Such things as serving food before drinks, having a responsible bartender rather than an open bar , serving a variety of non-alcoholic drinks and ending the party with coffee for the last hour or so.
I believe that all these steps can help me and the people around me prevent impaired driving.