AUSTIN, Texas — Summer is a time for fun and celebration. But it also brings many alcohol-related crash fatalities. Because of this, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is launching its first summer drinking and driving outreach program to encourage Texas drivers to designate a Person Appointed to Stay Sober (P.A.S.S.) before enjoying those drinks.
“A day on the beach, barbecues, outdoor concerts or just lazing the day away on the river, summer days are definitely great fun. But folks should put as much thought into planning for a sober ride home as they do into summer event planning,” said Carol Rawson, TxDOT traffic operations division director. “Be sure to include a P.A.S.S. for those events where you plan on drinking."
In Texas, 35 percent of all alcohol-related fatal crashes occur in the summer months between May and August. In 2011, there were 321 alcohol-related fatal crashes, resulting in 362 fatalities in that same time period.
Drinking and driving continues to be a national and statewide problem. In 2011, there were 24,151 DUI alcohol-related crashes in Texas resulting in 1,038 deaths and 15,960 injuries.
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According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey, 40 percent of drivers who consumed alcohol felt it would be safe to have three or more drinks within a 2-hour period before driving. A portion of that 40 percent actually believed they could have five or more drinks.
The reality is quite different. While the signs of impairment differ with the individual, alcohol steadily decreases a person’s ability to drive a motor vehicle safely, and the more a person drinks, the greater the effect. In single-vehicle crashes, the relative risk of a driver with BAC between .08 and .10 is at least 11 times greater than for drivers with a BAC of zero, and 52 times greater for young males. Further, many studies have shown that even small amounts of alcohol can impair a person’s ability to drive.
All 50 states have made it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. But many people, especially young adults, continue to drink and drive. In fatal crashes, the highest percentage of drivers with a BAC level of .08 or higher was for drivers, ages 21 to 24 (35 percent), followed by ages 25 to 34 (32 percent).
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