CALIFORNIA — The following essay was submitted to Johnson Attorneys Group for the 2023 Never Drink and Drive Scholarship Competition. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) later chose this as our winner.
Julissa Sauceda Essay
According to a study done in 2020 by the NHTSA, there were 5,250,873 police reported car accidents. This means there were roughly 14,386 accidents per day, which is estimated to be about one crash every six minutes. With this information it can be determined that Americans had a 1 in 63 chance of getting in a car accident. There are many problems we face on the road that contribute to these dire accidents, but what is being done to prevent them?
In February of 2021, my best friend died in a car accident due to a wrong-way driver. This accident caused a 7 vehicle collision and took the lives of two people, one of them being my 22 year old friend. The driver causing the accident was under the influence, and as a result of this entered the exit ramp on the freeway, heading into wrong-way traffic. This is a problem that happens more commonly than you would think. A preventative measure could be to ensure that all ramps require a flashing or reflective “Wrong Way” sign and arrows at the exit of each ramp. This may seem like a small measure, but it’s one that could make all the difference. Studies from the Caltrans District 11 have proven that this technology was observed to reduce between 44 to 64 percent of wrong-way events in their pilot efforts (Wrong-Way Driver Education and Prevention).
Drunk driving death tolls make up one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities. It is difficult to prevent a person from drunk driving, we can only do so much, but there are actions we can take to defer a perpetrator from reoffending. For one we should lower the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is currently at .08 percent to at least .05 percent, which studies have proven is the level that driving begins to be impaired at. Lowering the accepted levels can prevent crashes and crash related deaths and may cause someone to rethink socially drinking. A study by PMC states, “A 0.05 BAC is not typically just one or two drinks. For the average 170-pound man, it would take at least four alcoholic drinks in two hours on an empty stomach to exceed 0.05 BAC. The average 137 pound woman would have to drink three glasses of wine on an empty stomach in two hours to reach or exceed a 0.05 BAC”. Put that into perspective. It is time we take road safety seriously, and understand that every movement, law, policy can make all the difference. As said by Coretta Scott King, “It doesn’t matter how strong your opinions are. If you don’t use your power for positive change, you are, indeed, part of the problem.”
Learn more about Johnson Attorneys Group scholarship opportunities on our website.
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