Driving Safety

Drunk Driving and First Responders

Ouachita Parish Fire Department is very often the first to arrive on the scene of a vehicle accident. The Fire Department performs the extrication of trapped citizens from the destroyed vehicle. The loss of life and property is even more disturbing when it could have been so easily prevented. If someone had only not gotten behind the wheel after drinking…

Consider these facts from the 2002 Louisiana State Police records:
• There were 386 fatal crashes in the State of Louisiana related to alcohol. This is 47% of vehicular fatalities in the state last year.

• Alcohol related crashes injured 1,431 young people under the age of 24. Eighty-four of these were killed.

• Total injuries related to alcohol involved crashes were 5,400. Take injuries away & only consider the property damage of the 13,000 alcohol related crashes in 2002 in the State of Louisiana alone!

Every Drop Counts - What's in a Drink?

What is BAC?
Blood Alcohol Concentration, is a measure of the amount of alcohol in the body. Blood alcohol is measured directly through testing blood or indirectly through tests that use breath, urine or saliva.

Many factors affect an individual's absorption of alcohol. These include weight, sex (a higher proportion of a woman's body weight is in fat and fat absorbs less alcohol than muscle tissue) amount of food in the digestive track and time spent drinking (and the corresponding rate of elimination).

Most states consider a person too intoxicated to drive when his or her BAC reaches .10%. At a BAC of .10%, there is roughly one drop of alcohol in the blood stream to every 1,000 drops of blood.

What BAC's Are Unsafe?

Most people will be obviously drunk at .10% BAC. Some drinkers can appear to be in control of themselves, but they nevertheless have lost crucial driving abilities.

Reaction Time: Simple reaction time is impaired at .04 BAC. When a driver must choose from a number of responses (choice reaction). impairment begins at .03% BAC.

Tracking: Monitoring of your car's position on the road is an example of tracking. The ability to track a single object is impaired at .05% BAC. If two or more objects must be tracked at once (your car and another's) performance is reduced at even lower BAC's.

Attention: A person can concentrate on a single task at BAC's as high as .08%. But, if the driver must divide his or her attention between tasks, impairment is present at .05% BAC or lower.

Comprehension: An increase in the time it takes the brain to understand what has been said or heard occurs at .05% BAC.

Vision: Control over eye movement and the ability to merge two images into one show impairment at .05% BAC. The ability to perceive detail in an object in motion also suffers at .05% BAC.

Coordination: BAC's of .05% impair tasks which require highly controlled muscular movements, such as coordination of hands and feet.

Road Test Performance: In driver performance tests, a BAC of .08% impairs accuracy of steering, braking, speed control, lane tracking, gear changing and judgments of speed and distance. Ability to respond to emergencies is impaired at .04%.

What is the Risk?

The risk of being in a crash begins to rise between .04% and .05% BAC and increases rapidly thereafter. By the time a driver reaches a BAC of .06% he or she is twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as a non-drinking driver.

By the time a driver reaches a BAC of .10%, he or she is 12 times more likely than a non-drinking driver to be involved in a fatal crash. What's more, the higher the BAC level of the driver, the higher the probability that he or she will have been at fault in a crash. Intoxicated drivers are not just unlucky; they cause crashes in which they are involved.