Drinking and driving accounts for nearly 40% of all traffic fatalities in the United States annually. In terms of figures – that adds up to nearly 17,000 men, women and children – the size of a small suburb in the Houston area. In addition, thousands of people suffer varying degrees of injury from the temporary to the permanent and the minor to the debilitating.
Unfortunately, all the DUI laws in the world do not seem to be having a significant impact on this problem.
With every individual that is arrested, charged and convicted of intoxicated driving – two more seem to ‘pop up’. Lawmakers have increased fines, jail terms and other punishments – all to no avail. People who choose to drink and drive are persistent and stubborn.
For instance, one woman was arrested for suspected drunk driving. When she was bailed out by a family friend she went back for her car and drove drunk a second time! She caused an accident and grave injury to another individual as a result.
One glimmer of hope in the ‘war’ on drunk driving is the installation of ignition systems that detect alcohol and prevent a driver from starting up the car. Anti-drunk driving organizations are lobbying Congress to require these systems be built into all new vehicles.
Despite what has been record sentences for drunk driving accidents where someone has been seriously injured or killed, the percentage of fatal car wrecks that involve alcohol has not declined. Even changes in policies that make it easier to arrest drunk drivers have had little impact. Houston initiated a no refusal policy that has been very effective in arrests of drunk drivers but has yet to impact the number of fatal crashes where alcohol is suspected. Eventually, a no refusal policy will have an impact on the community in reducing the number of drunk driving crashes.
Another area that should be addressed by Texas leaders in Austin, should be the complete ban of texting while driving for all drivers. Texting is proving to be almost as dangerous as drinking and driving for Texas families. It is high time that are political leaders showed true leadership on the issue of distracted driving. A statewide solution is needed.