Drug Related Car Crashes on Rise in Uta

A recent report in a Salt Lake City newspaper indicated that drug-related fatal car crashes are on the rise in Utah again.  The report indicates that 108 individuals from Utah were killed in incidents where someone chose to drink or use drugs before getting behind the wheel in a one year period. Also during that year, the amount of deadly collisions where a driver tested positive for drug use rose 7 percent— from 67% to 72 %.  Within the past decade, these fatalities account for more than a quarter of all fatal crashes within Utah during the 1 year period that was examined.

The report further indicated that most often, marijuana, meth, depressants and narcotics were found within the driver’s system. Perhaps this prompted Utah lawmakers to recently pass a bill which dropped the legal blood alcohol content for driving to .05 percent – making Utah the lowest in the nation.

The DUI report also indicated the following statistics:

  • 81% of drivers arrested for DUI had a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher.
  • 12% of those arrested were under the legal drinking age of 21, with 14 being the youngest.
  • The average blood alcohol content for those arrested was .15%, with the highest being .42%.

Although the recent bill to lower the legal blood alcohol content for driving is significant, more needs to be done to lower the rate of drug related car crashes in Utah.

Source: Desert News, Heather Miller, DUI/Alcohol-Related Crashes Fatalities in Utah, DUI/Alcohol-Related Crashes Fatalities in Utah

December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month

December is National Impaired Drunk and Drugged Driving Month. Most often, driving impaired by drinking a

nd drugs spikes during the holiday season making this time of year a good time to focus on prevention and remember what’s at stake when behind the wheel. Last year, President Obama stated that in 2015,preventable alcohol-related driving fatalities accounted for nearly one third of all traffic accidents. Sadly, in spite of year of campaigning and advertising messages by law enforcement and other anti drunk driving groups, the numbers of individuals affected remain closely the same. Not only in December, drunk, drugged and distracted driving incidents are on the rise in our nation.

Last year, President Obama gave some very sound advice when he offered the following 5 points. He indicated that in order to prevent more drunk, drugged and distracted driving related injuries and fatalities, we must:

  • Pledge not to get behind the wheel after drinking, and not to text while driving. Ever.
  • Call 911 if we suspect a driver is drunk or impaired.
  • Set a good example for teen drivers by modeling safe driving practices and choices.
  • Provide better treatment options for Americans who struggle with alcohol and substance misuse disorders.
  • Give law enforcement the resources and tools they need to address impaired driving

Putting an end to drunk and drugged driving is not easy. It requires personal examination, responsibility, and effort as well as effective public policies. Hopefully, this December, more individuals will be alert and attentive and traffic injuries and fatalities can be fewer.

Drunk Driving

According to the US Department of Transportation, every two hours, 3 people are killed in highway crashes due to drunk driving. The consequences of drunk driving include: arrests, property damage, injuries, and thousands of deaths each year. A recent report published by the Bureau of Transportation indicates that, “an estimated 4 million U.S. adults reported driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in 2010, yielding an estimated 112 million alcohol-impaired driving episodes.”

The study also found some interesting facts relating to the statistics of drunk driving. They found that the rate of drunk driving is quite high and were surprised that there were not more deaths due to drunk driving because of this high rate. They indicate that, “alcohol-related highway crashes accounted for 13,365 deaths in 2010. In addition, alcohol-related highway crashes annually cost Americans an estimated $37 billion…Among major crimes, driving under the influence has one of the highest arrest rates with more than 1.4 million DUI arrests in 2010. In 2010, alcohol was involved in 2,020 (or 47.2 percent) of pedestrian fatalities, 11,087 (or 39.9 percent) of vehicle occupant fatalities, 209 (or 33.8 percent) of pedal cyclist fatalities. Pedestrians are more vulnerable than highway vehicle occupants are. In addition, drivers involved in traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities had less than two-thirds the rate of alcohol involvement as did the pedestrians killed.”

Drunk driving has been shown to be more prevalent among men, with men being involved in close to 81% of the fatal incidents involving drunk driving. Also, recreational vehicles, especially boats, have been examined in their relation to drunk driving and it was found in the recent study that alcohol was involved in 22 percent of fatalities involving boats. In any situation, driving drunk can impair a driver’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time.

Within the workplace, pilots and commercial truck drivers are often tested, as well as many others, to determine their blood-alcohol level. While most reports are positive in this area, indicating a lessening of drunk driving, studies have still brought to light that problems do exist and continued testing is absolutely necessary.

Source:

U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Drunk Driving by the Numbers- United States, 2010; available at https://www.rita.dot.gov.

The Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Most of us tend to think of alcohol use affecting mainly the liver and the brain. However, recent research points to evidence that alcohol impacts and effects almost every organ and system in the body. Further, the effects can be temporary or permanent depending on the amount consumed and the frequency of consumption.

According to drugrehab.org, “Alcohol is ingested orally and travels through the esophagus to the stomach. Alcohol requires no digestion before it enters the bloodstream. If the stomach is empty, twenty percent of the alcohol is absorbed through the stomach walls into the bloodstream and begins to affect the brain within a minute. For this reason, many alcoholics prefer to drink on an empty stomach. Although the esophagus is only the tube through which an alcoholic drink passes on its way to the stomach, half of oral, esophageal cancers and laryngeal cancers are related to regular drinking. The remaining alcohol makes its way to the small intestine where it is also readily absorbed” (http://www.drugrehab.org/alcohol-rehab/alcohol-effects/).

Those who drink on a regular basis are doing even more damage to their bodies. Gastritis, a condition that irritates the stomach lining tissues, can occur as well as reflux, ulcers, and erosion of the stomach wall. Malnutrition can present due to damage to the small intestine absorption mechanisms from regular alcohol intake. If individuals drink regularly over long periods of time, other conditions such as hepatitis, inflammation of the liver, and/or development of a fatty liver can occur. Ultimately, cirrhosis, defined as irreversible damage to the liver manifested in permanent scaring and decreased function, occurs from long-term regular drinking. Blood cells are also damaged making alcoholics more infection prone due to white blood cell abnormalities.

Mental function is also impaired with alcohol intake. First, drinkers may feel euphoric and calm. Then, judgement may become impaired which often leads to drinking more than intended. Memories can be lost, vision blurred, and coordination impaired with more alcohol. Last, even more alcohol intake can lead to confusion, stupor, coma, and even death from intoxication.

Although some damage from alcohol intake may never be repaired, abstinence can definitely heal many affected parts of the body. Generally, when alcoholism is present, medically supervised rehab is recommend. Getting enough vitamins and rest is necessary to repair the damage that has occurred. Sobriety can be achieved through this type of supervision, along with counseling and other support systems. Mental functioning can also be improved and regained with sobriety assuming that permanent brain damage hasn’t occurred. Outpatient therapy can help with lasting mental or cognitive impairment and is generally necessary to combat the effects of alcohol, on the body.

LowerBloodAlcoholandDrivingLower Legal Limit on Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

This month the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that states across the country drop the legal BAC (blood alcohol content) levels from 0.08 to 0.05 — “or even lower” — in an effort to discourage more people from driving while intoxicated in 2016. CNN.com reported that the NTSB tweeted “Safety is a journey, not a destination. Reducing BAC limit to .05 is one of many steps to end substance impairment in transportation.”

Although the NTSB hopes that by lowering the legal BAC limit, the number of fatal car accidents due to drunk driving will decrease, many individuals don’t think moving to 0.05 will do much good. The rational for the difference in the BAC was explained by NTSB Vice Chairwoman Bella Dinh-Zarr. She thinks going to a 0.05 BAC limit would save lives, citing studies from other countries where it’s been implemented and believes lowering the bar for what counts as legally drunk is one of the many things can be done to combat drunken driving.

Of course, there is support for and against the proposal to lower the legal limit on BAC. Many organizations believe that lowering the legal BAC limit will discourage people from drinking too much, or driving after drinking at all. Other groups believe sobriety checks or ignition locks are the way to approach the problem. Although the NTSB tried to lower the legal BAC level last year, they have not yet been able to implement anything.

source: CNN.com

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