Halloween is an annual treat for millions of Americans of all ages. But the festivities can also turn into a potentially deadly trick for those drivers who insist on getting behind the wheel after downing a few beers or cocktails.
If you plan on celebrating this year with any form of alcohol, be aware that the police will be out in force. Not only will they promptly arrest you for blowing over the .08 blood alcohol content (BAC), your insurance rates will likely increase, you may face jail and/or fines, and the money you’ll need for a lawyer won’t be pretty, either.
But can’t you have a couple of beers, enjoying a good “buzz” without fear of getting caught? It really isn’t worth the risk – to other people on the road, and pedestrians, especially. So, even if you think you’re the most careful driver on the road and completely capable of driving safely after drinking one or two drinks, read these statistics and consider foregoing alcohol and driving this Halloween.
- “Buzzed” driving is drunk driving. In 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 10,322 people killed in drunk-driving crashes.
- Almost half (48 percent) of the crash fatalities on Halloween night 2012 were caused by drunk drivers, says the NHTSA.
- It is illegal in every state to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher. Police officers can also arrest a driver with a BAC lower than .08 if they have probable caused based on observance of driver behavior.
Even a very small amount of alcohol in the blood causes effects on the ability of a person to drive. This list of BAC levels and effects on driving is courtesy of the NHTSA.
- .02 percent – While there’s some loss of judgment, relaxation, slight body warmth and altered mood, driving risks include a decline in visual function (the rapid tracking of a moving target), and decline in ability to perform two tasks simultaneously (divided attention).
- .05 percent – Here there’s more exaggerated behavior, loss of small muscle control (trouble focusing eyes), impaired judgment, usually good feeling, lowered alertness, release of inhibitions. The effects of .05 BAC on driving include reduced coordination and reduce ability to track moving objects, difficulty steering and reduced or delayed response to emergency driving situations.
- .08 percent – At this level of BAC, muscle coordination becomes poor, affecting balance, speech, vision, reaction time and hearing. It’s harder to detect danger and judgment, self-control, reasoning and memory suffer. While driving, a .08 BAC severely affects concentration, results in short-term memory loss, difficulties with controlling speed, reduced capability to process information, such as detecting traffic signals and doing visual searches, and perception is impaired.
- .10 percent – Along with slurred speech, slowed thinking and poor coordination, there’s a clear deterioration of reaction time and control. The driver with a .10 BAC has reduced ability to stay in their lane and brake appropriately.
- .15 percent – There’s the possibility of vomiting, major loss of balance and much less muscle control than normal. Behind the wheel, though, the driver with .15 BAC has “substantial” impairment in controlling the vehicle, in attention to driving, and in processing necessary visual and auditory information.
Bottom line: Don’t even think about driving “buzzed” this Halloween. Arrange for a sober driver. Take a taxi. Stay home. Better yet, don’t drink at all. There are plenty of sober ways to enjoy a safe and spooky Halloween.