Summer is a time when you spend your days at the beach and bonfires with friends at night – usually with fruity drinks in hand. Summer is my favorite time of year because the days feel longer, you can swim endlessly in the ocean, and end the night with a tan and a barbecued hamburger. The reality of these precious summer months is that all the benefits like longer days, better visibility, and dryer roads mean more people are on the road and more people are traveling towards the weather. According to the NHTSA, the higher number of travelers and alcohol-impaired drivers during holiday seasons causes about twice as many vehicle deaths as the rest of the year combined. Could it also have to do with the endless summer hours and teenage drivers who drink alcohol? Yes.
The legal limit for your blood alcohol content is .08%, so any amount above this will result in a driving-under-the-influence (DUI) charge. The issue with this is that summer is one of the most dangerous times for driving teenagers. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 5.8% of kids 16 and 17 and 15.1% of 18 to 20 year olds admitted to driving with alcohol in their system in 2010. In 2010, a total of 3,115 teenagers ages 13-19 died in car accidents. With teenage drivers, there are many factors that make this age group more susceptible to vehicle accidents such as less driving experience and a higher probability of distracted driving. Adding alcohol to this already-at-risk age group only makes the road more dangerous.
Nine out of the ten deadliest days for teenagers on the road falls between May and August – the summer months. It is evident that a significant jump in drunk driving occurs during the summer when teenagers have more free time and the freedom to engage in social events that involve alcohol.
What does this mean?
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), a person is killed every 34 minutes during Labor Day Weekend due to drunk driving. Statistics show that drunk driving is indeed more prevalent during holiday and summer times so it is imperative to be an extra cautious driver during these times. This is the time to transform your typically relaxed yet vigilant driving mindset into one characteristic of a defensive and hyper-alert driver.
Drunk driving not only affects your life and everyone else’s life on the road, it affects your wallet in a big way. In the US, the total cost of a first DUI offense is between $7,772- $10,172. This large chunk of money includes:
– Penalty assessment
– State restitution fund
– Alcohol abuse education fund
– Blood breath testing fee
– Driving alcohol school
– Jail Cite and Release Fund
– License Reissue Fee
– Attorney Fee (around $2,500)
– Auto Insurance Increase (typically between $3,600-$6,000)
How Do We Stay Safe?
The sun is shining, the water is heating up, and friendships are becoming stronger over late-night swims and social gatherings. Summer is a time to cherish. With all this being said, it is also a dangerous season that requires each person to be aware of his surroundings and adapt accordingly.
- When attending a social event where there is alcohol present, arrange for a friend/parent/Uber driver to handle the driving
- Never get behind the wheel if you feel the effects of alcohol (if you are underage, do not attempt to drive even with one drop of alcohol in your system or it will immediately result in a DUI)
- If you are hosting a party with alcohol, take the keys of the party guests away or ensure everyone has a designated driver or taxi
- If you are a parent, make sure you discuss with your children the consequences and dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol
The only thing more fun than a hot summer, is a safe summer.
Alexa Martin is a Loyola Marymount University graduate who is currently a content marketing specialist in California. She works with multiple law firms across the United States and focuses primarily on safety and elder care.