It is no shock that drunk driving is dangerous, and that it kills innocent people on the roads of Baltimore. Many people in the region know of at least someone who has been hurt or killed at the hands of a drunk driver, and everyone is likely aware that there are laws in Maryland against driving under the influence of alcohol. However, these stories of people getting hurt by drunk drivers in car accidents are anecdotal, not statistical, and there are plenty of people who want to know the actual numbers.
Statistics Show the Danger of Drunk Driving
First off, it is important to note that studies have found that, yes, driving while drunk reduces your ability to drive safely.
The Transport Research Laboratory studied the ability of drivers to respond to road hazards in a variety of circumstances. The study used sober drivers as a baseline, and then compared their response times to drivers who were either under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or who were distracted by a variety of other things. The results were telling: Compared to sober drivers, those who were driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% had response times that were 13% slower.
Those slower response times are only one of the many factors that makes driving under the influence of alcohol a dangerous thing to do: Drunk drivers are also terrible at making decisions and recognizing dangers. In all, drunk drivers make bad decisions on the road that put innocent people in danger. They then fail to recognize that danger, and are then are less able to respond in time to avoid that hazard and prevent innocent people from getting hurt.
As a result, drunk drivers are far more likely to cause a car crash than sober drivers. Just how much more is shocking, though. In one report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it was found that drivers who had a BAC right at the legal limit of 0.08% were 4 times more likely to crash. Drivers with a BAC of 0.15%, though, were 12 times more likely to be involved in an accident.
These accidents are costly, both in terms of dollars and lives lost. In 2012, the NHTSA estimated that alcohol-related crashes cost more than $37 billion, and led to more than 10,000 people losing their lives on the roads of the U.S. – at the rate of one every 51 minutes. In 2016, that number had risen to 10,497, and accounted for 28% of all road fatalities in the country for the year.
Drunk Driving in Maryland
Maryland is not immune to the increase in crashes caused by drunk drivers.
Between 2014 and 2015, the number of drivers who were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Maryland soared from around 450 to more than 550 over the course of a single year. However, those numbers represent drivers who were found to be drunk and who were pulled over, often before they could cause any damage.
In other cases, the outcome was not so fortunate.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that, in the decade between 2003 and 2012, there were 1,716 people who lost their life in car crashes that involved a drunk driver in Maryland. The vast majority of these victims were in the prime of their lives, between the ages of 21 and 34. Unfortunately, the CDC's report found a disturbing trend: 2.1% of adults in Maryland admitted to driving while intoxicated in the past 30 days. This was 0.2% higher than the national average.
If you ask the advocacy and awareness group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), though, Maryland is actually doing quite well, ranking among the best in the country. Their numbers, however, focused more on laws that are designed to control the drunk driving epidemic rather than on statistics, themselves. For example, Maryland scored highly in part because it allows sobriety checkpoints, revokes licenses for repeat offenders, and requires first-time offenders to use an ignition interlock device. However, Maryland ranked 14th in the percentage of fatal crashes that were caused by drunk driving.
Nevertheless, statistics by the NHTSA lean more towards Maryland being a success than a failure. Their numbers show that fatalities from drunk driving have diminished significantly, though it is still a serious safety concern. Since 2006, when 138 people died on the roads of Maryland in an alcohol-related accident, the number has fallen steadily. In 2015, the most recent year statistics were provided, only 67 people were killed by a drunk driver, a decrease of over 48% in the decade.
Much of these gains reported by the NHTSA indicate that Maryland is going in the right direction when it comes to drunk driving. In fact, the lower fatalities that the NHTSA found is likely to be related to the sharp increase in DUI arrests that was reported between 2014 and 2015. With more stringent law enforcement, drivers are deterred from even getting behind the wheel if they know they have had enough to drink to make them impaired. However, the state still has a long way to go if it truly wants to make drunk driving a thing of the past.
Baltimore Personal Injury Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
Every day in Baltimore, drivers make the poor decision to get behind the wheel while feeling the ill effects of alcohol. They are unable to make decisions that are safe for the road, and are unable to get themselves out of the dangers that they create or are unable to anticipate.
If you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and get hit by a drunk driver, there is a significant chance that you will have suffered serious injuries that will take time to recover from. Unfortunately, this recovery is likely to be expensive. You deserve to be compensated by the driver who caused the crash.
That is where the personal injury attorneys at the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help. Contact us online or call us at (800) 529-6162 for the legal representation you need to make the full recovery that you deserve.