Labor Day weekend is generally considered summer’s last hurrah. It is also a very dangerous time to be on our highways. Traffic volume is higher than during most other weekends. It is particularly dangerous due to the number of auto accidents and other vehicle crashes that occur due to alcohol related behaviors.
In 2017, the number of alcohol-related crashes on Virginia highways in September was high (606), although not the highest of all months of the year. The number of injuries sustained in these crashes was also high (353), but not the highest of all months in 2017. In September 2017 the number of fatalities in alcohol-related accidents was the highest of any month in the year (33). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) calculated that “the proportion of fatally injured drivers with blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.08 was 27 percent in 2016.” [http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/alcohol-and-drugs/quanda#alcohol – general]
Effects of Drinking and Driving
Alcohol has several effects on drivers that make them dangerous.
- Poor judgment
- Impaired vision and visual function: depth perception in particular
- Reduced coordination
- Delayed reaction time
- Impaired motor skills
As blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises, so do the risks of being in an alcohol-related crash. Virginia drunk driving laws prohibit driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. People under the age of 21 are prohibited from driving with any blood alcohol concentration. According to statistics from the (IIHS),
- At all levels, a fatal crash risk is much higher among persons aged 16-20 than among drivers over the age of 21.
- With a BAC of 0.08 compared to someone with a 0.0 BAC, the likelihood of a fatal crash is 10 times higher among drivers aged 16-20; 7 times among drivers aged 21-34; 6 times among drivers aged 35 and older.
- At any BAC level, the risk of a fatal crash is the same for male and female drivers in any age group.
- The risk of involvement in a fatal crash rises as darkness falls. The increase is proportionate to age group.
Protect Yourself from Drunk Drivers
Being a sober and safe driver should include defensive driving skills when traveling our highways over the Labor Day weekend. Some key actions that should help to protect you when drunk drivers are on the road:
- Remain alert for drunk drivers near your vehicle. Watch for weaving, speeding, driving too slowly, other erratic driving behaviors.
- Ask your passengers to help you watch traffic near you and identify drunk drivers.
- Use your seatbelt and insist that your passengers use theirs as well.
- Surround yourself with an extra cushion of space while driving. Try to create or maintain extra room to stop or time to react to a drunk driver.
- Use extra caution at intersections and in areas where you know drunk drivers are likely to be on the road.
- Try to do your driving during the daylight hours.
- Exercise greater caution in bad weather, or postpone your travel.
- Avoid the “hammer” lane.
- Signal turns as early as possible to give other extra time to react.
- Follow all of the rules of safe driving.
- Ensure that you are a sober driver or have a designated driver.
We hope you enjoy your Labor Day weekend, and that it will be the last hurrah of summer and not your last hurrah. Please do not drink and drive and do not allow others to drive under the influence. Exercise extra care and ensure that you and your family arrive safely at home.
At Altizer Law, P.C., we help people who have been hurt in auto accidents or other vehicle accidents on our highways. If you or a loved one is injured in a traffic incident, call us for the help you need to recover and move forward.