The Affect that Drinking and Driving has on New York City’s Society
The Affect that Drinking and Driving have on New York City’s Society.
The paper herein discusses the main effects that drunk driving has on New York City’s society, particularly individuals between 21 and 29 years of age. These effects include loss of lives, financial, physical, mental and emotional effects. In summary, loss of lives and physical impacts such as paralysis and injury are a short-term consequence of drunk driving. On the other hand, mental and emotional effects such as depression, flares of anger, feeling of loneliness among other facets are both a short-term and a long-term consequence of the incident. This analysis assesses all the latter stated impacts in great detail. Also highlighted will be the causes as well as the number of people affected of drunk driving in the city. Nonetheless, since not everyone agrees that driving under the influence has adverse effects on New York’s society, the paper will also address two counterarguments by the opposition and discuss the credibility of these claims. Finally, the paper delves deeper into the impact issue by utilizing a practical example of New York people that were affected by a drunk driving incident that occurred in July 2015.
According to alcoholics victorious, alcohol-related car crashes causes the death of an individual in the United States every 22 minutes (Alcoholics Victorious, 2015). Moreover, at any single minute, one in every fifty drivers behind the wheel is drunk; this rate increases to one in ten when it is a weekend (Alcoholics Victorious, 2015). Also, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in New York, there are about 120,000 alcohol-related crashes every year because of drunk drivers and injuries and diseases caused by alcohol (CDC, 2015). Driving a car while driving impaired because of alcohol is one of the most reckless and dangerous things that an individual can do. There exists a mass of research and studies that show that a person’s driving performance, as well as his/her reaction time, is gravely affected once one is under the influence. New York city’s law states that it is illegal to operate a car or any other ‘dangerous’ machinery if one’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level is higher than .02% for people under the age of 21 years and greater than .08% for persons over 21 years old (Stim, 2014). When a person takes alcohol higher than these levels and driver, there are not only endangering themselves but also the passengers in the car, pedestrians, and other road users. Accordingly, the paper herein will prove that drunk driving has nothing but negative effects on New York’s City’s society. It will mainly focus on people between 21 and 29 years of age and highlight the impacts as well as causes of drunk driving in the city.
Not everyone agrees that driving under the influence has negative effects on New York’s society, and it would be sensible first to address the counterarguments provided by people in the opposition before addressing the claim. One argument that there exist many other factors that are unrelated to driving under the influence that causes road accidents, injuries, and death and that the state possesses no right to decide where and when they consume alcohol. These factors include sleep deprivation, road rage, and text messaging among others. For text messaging, for example, studies have proved that when an individual talks on a cell phone while driving, even if he/she is using a hands-free device, his/her driver impairment level will be substantially greater than that of someone with a 0.08BAC level (Balko, 2010). Another study done by the American Automobile Association (AAA) discovered several other distractions that happen inside a car that can lead to driving impairments such as adjusting a radio, eating, and having children in the backseat (AAA, 2001). The breadth tests that the police use to identify a person’s BAC level is also associated with a lot of problems (Balko, 2010). This is because most machine manufacturers of the breadth test equipment have refused to disclose information on the source code implying that the margin of error in the machine cannot be assessed, implicating that this machines can be inaccurate. Accordingly, Balko (2010) argues that drunk driving laws should be abolished and instead, people charged if they drive recklessly rather than if they are drunk over a certain limit. Although some of the counterarguments provided in this article are sensible such as the other factors that can lead to accidents, abolishing the drunk driving laws would not be the best solution. Instead, more legislation and policies should be introduced to govern these other factors that contribute to driver impairment.
Another counterargument provided against drinking laws, and the effects of drunk driving are that the drinking laws and policies are just a revenue gathering scheme and do a petite amount to control the behavior of habitual drunk drivers (The Week, 2010). To provide evidence for the latter argument, a study was carried out on the effects of the use of cell phones when an individual is driving. In the study, a comparison of drunk drivers and cell-phone drivers was done (Strayer, Crouch & Drews, 2003). A simulator was utilized to measure how the subjects in the study reacted to cars braking in front of them. The results of the study were that cell-phone drivers had an 8% slower reaction rate compared to the normal datum; it also took these drivers around 16% longer to back to their normal speed (Strayer, Crouch & Drews, 2003). On the other hand, drivers that had a .08% BAC level and above showed average accident rates but reaction times and time required to return to normal speed was varied. The study concluded that cell phone drivers displayed greater driving impairment, more accidents and less responsive times than drivers who were drunk. Although the counterargument presented above has some grounding, it does not fully appreciate the fact that the fines imposed by the police are a way of reducing drunk driving rates by discouraging drivers and not a way of raising revenue. Also, one cannot argue that since cell phone drivers pose more risk than drunk drivers, drunk driving laws should be abolished and cell phone drivers monitored more. Instead, both cell phone drivers, as well as drunk drivers, should be monitored equally. Moreover, measures to curb cell-phone drivers have also been put in place by the police including fines.
Moving on, the most prominent and foremost effect of drinking and driving is a fatal car crash. According to statistics on New York’s drunk driving rates in 2008, 320 fatal accidents were reported in the city whereby at least one driver had a BAC level that was greater than 0.08%. Also, 341 individuals were killed in accidents with at least one driver having a 0.08% and above BAC level and 68 people with those having a BAC level of 0.01% and 0.07%; total deaths amounted to 409 persons (Drink Driving, 2008). Alcohol is a substance that significantly affects the central nervous system on a short and long-term basis (Lerner, 2011). When an individual consumes alcohol, the central nervous system is affected, it leads to them having an impairment in their behavioral and cognitive capabilities. This means that they lack proper judgment and have poor decision-making skills. Accordingly, drivers who are intoxicated have a statistically higher chance of causing a fatal car crash than drivers who are sober. Reaction times exhibited by an inebriated driver can go down to around 8% to 30%. Their vision may also become blurred, and judgment on the speed, distance, and hazards is more likely to be reduced. Moreover, research has also proven that crashes that occur when a person is drunk have a statistically higher chance of resulting in fatalities to the driver and injuries (Lerner, 2011). This conclusion is based on the fact that drunk drivers are more likely to drive over the stated speed limits and less likely to put on seatbelts during their escapades, consequently increasing their statistical chances of being among the people involved in a fatal car crash that could lead to injuries and even death of the driver.
Another societal effect of drinking while drunk is causing death or injury of another person during driving. This person could be a driver in another vehicle or a pedestrian or even a passenger in the drunk driver’s car. This implies that three in every ten people in New York City, whether a drunk driver or not, will be involved in an accident that is related to drunk driving. Consequently, drunk driving is a threat to public safety; several studies have pointed out that every single year, approximately 17,000 people die as a result of motor vehicle accidents caused by drunk driving (CDC, 2015). First, will be an analysis of the pedestrian-vehicle crashes; the National Highway Safety Administration reported that in the United States alone, approximately 4,500 pedestrians died and another 69,000 injured as a result of pedestrian-vehicle collisions (Buchholz, 2009). Although around 9% of all the journeys in the US are made on foot, approximately 12% of all traffic deaths occur on pedestrians (Buchholz, 2009). The days and times pedestrians are at a higher risk of injury vary from the ones that they are at the risk of death. Also, statistics shows that most of the accidents involving pedestrians take place at seven a.m. and seven pm in the US, with a peak period between three p.m. and seven p.m. (Buchholz, 2009). On the other hand, fatalities due to pedestrian-vehicle crash mostly occur at night. Most of these crashes occur on Friday and Saturday, with the least rate being on Sundays. These are as a result of fluctuations in traffic volumes on these days and hours of the day. Furthermore, night fatalities occur as a result of factors such as intoxicated drivers, drunk pedestrian or poor visibility. Nonetheless, a majority of these deaths are caused by drunk drivers.
Secondly, the effects of drunk driving on other vehicles and passenger in the other vehicle or the drunk driver’s car will be addressed. Passengers in the drunk drivers’ car place all their trust on the driver. Nonetheless, reckless decisions can erase all the boundaries put in place to protect us. Around 40% of all vehicles being driven by a drunk driver has at least one passenger in it (Drunk Driving, 2008). However, not all vehicles with a drunk driver end up in an accident, but a substantial amount, approximately over 30% does. Moreover, of these accidents around 56% of them involve other vehicles (Drunk Driving, 2008). If one thinks of this critically, it means that drunk drivers are not only a threat to themselves but are a threat to the whole society. Accordingly, all people should be prevented from getting behind the wheel while they are under the influence or their driving id impaired in any way.
Driving while drunk also has financial effects on the family and the society. Drunk drivers often ram into buildings and structures causing damages that would cost money to repair. The drunk driver may be expected or forced, by law, to compensate the owners of the building through fines, or the building owner or state may be obliged to repair the damage from their own pockets. Paying the owner will mean that the drunk driver and his family will bear this avoidable financial burden due to the irresponsibility of the drunk driver. Insurance premiums might also be increased for a driver who has ever been involved in a drunk driving accident caused by him/her (Zawacki, 2014). Job opportunities can also be lost due to drunk driving immediately or years after the driving while drunk incident occurs. Reports on credit can also be substantially impacted. The latter costs are linked to an arrest due to drunk driving. Next, costs are incurred for rehabilitations such as treatments for injuries and alcoholism rehabilitation. A loss of life or an accident can also result in grave financial consequences (Zawacki, 2014). Finally, the cost of repairs, the legal fees, and the liability from settlements of victims of the vehicle crash can paralyze families and individuals.
Drunk driving also causes mental and physical distress to both the victims of the car crash and their families for years after an incident that lasted a few seconds or minutes. Unexpected death and sudden physical impairment can be very traumatic. A few number of people can cope with these problems even if they have a strong support system. Some opt for professional treatment such as counseling than can sometimes bare little or no result even after spending huge chunks of money in them (Smith, 2011). According to a study conducted by CDC, about 70% of victims of car crash accidents, inclusive of those caused as a result of drunk driving, suffer mental and physical problems immediately after the incident (CDC, 2015). Of this percentage, only 20% of them manage to have no mental and physical problems two years after the incident (CDC, 2015). This value is representative of the entire United States population including New York City’s residents and those who fall between 21 and 29 years of age. As a matter of fact, people at this age have a higher risk of suffering from mental distress, especially if they get paralyzed because they will most likely live a significant portion of their lives paralyzed (Smith, 2011). The distress may even be more if an individual is a drunk driver in the accident. The person might face jail time from the incident and go on to experience more traumatic events in prison. The individual might also feel tremendous guilt from the loss of a family member or friend during the crash. Legal problems might also plague the drunk driver in the accident. All these problems might lead to mental distress (Montvilo, 2013).
Depression, anxiety, grief and many other emotional problems can affect anyone affected by accidents caused by drunk driving. The consequences of driving while under the influence extend to the drunk driver, pedestrians, passengers, and their respective families (Schmidt, 2013). A drunk driving incident is as difficult emotionally as it is physically and financially. Decisions that were made in split seconds can lead to unimaginable consequences that can alter the life of many individuals. Guilt from the loss and injury of a relative, friend or other people might overcome drunk drivers convicted of the crime to the point of depression and even suicide (Schmidt, 2013). Anger might also harvest among the victims themselves and their families. Everyone that is involved in such an incident has a high risk of developing an emotional condition by the name of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a disorder that goes past depression and often consists of a victim experiencing a series of flashbacks and nightmares of the unpleasant memories of the incident (Sutton, 2007). People affected by this condition suffer symptoms such as flashes of anger, nightmares, exaggerated response, being overly cautious or vigilant, and trouble remembering or concentrating among others (Sutton, 2007). They experience a majority of the latter highlighted symptoms for months and even years after the incident.
A death that have taken place abruptly for which friends and family members are ill prepared can be tough to deal with than if the death was anticipated. Sudden deaths are far more difficult for an individual to process especially when a person dies from a road accident that could have been easily avoided or is killed violently. The loss a loved person because of the drunk driver’s negligence leads to strong emotions such as anger. On some occasions, an individual experiences depressing thoughts that can cause the person to do things out of their character such as committing suicide (Scott & Stradling, 2006). According to Thomas (2008), for any individual that is experiencing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), he/she goes through seven phases of grief. These stages are disbelief and shock, denial, bargain, guilt, anger, depression and hope and acceptance respectively. Furthermore, other common emotional reactions to grief from a traumatic incidence include sleeplessness, poor appetite, and loss of motivation, withdrawal from other people, spiritual confusion and a feeling of isolation (Scott & Stradling, 2006). All these lead to a lot of emotional pain and misery as a result of a split-second decision.
To further illustrate all the effects of drinking and driving in New York City’s society, a practical example of a drunk driver in the city will be utilized. This article was posted in the New York Post (Vecsey & Golding, 2015). Steve Romeo was a 55-year-old truck driver who was under the influence while he was driving. The other driver who also got involved in the accident was Carlos Pino, who was a 58-year-old man. Pino was driving a limo and was making a U-turn that is alleged to be illegal when he was ‘T-boned’ by the truck being driven by the accused truck driver, Carlos Pino. As a result, four women who were New York locals were killed in the horrific road accident that occurred on Long Island. On top of that another 24-year old individual from Brooklyn and three other people were injured because of the crash. The party was in a limo with a bride on their way to a wedding; the bride survived the car accident (Vecsey & Golding, 2015). As a result of this incident, Steve Romeo was held on a bail of $500,000. He was also taxed with driving while intoxicated. Moreover, he ran from the car scene and had to be chased down by police. Consequently, investigations were taking place and the authorities are on the verge of upgrading Romeo’s charges significantly (Vecsey & Golding, 2015).
In the above-stated incident, many parties might be affected by the event. First, Romeo might suffer jail time and fines imposed on him due to his drunken driving. An example of this repercussions is the bail that has been set for Romeo amounting to $500,000. Romeo might also suffer mental and emotional distress as a result of this occurrence such as anger, guilt and the other forms of distress mentioned in the paper herein. He will also suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) immediately and in the long-term. On the other hand, Romeo’s family will suffer from financial, mental and emotional problems. Financial problems will be as a result of expenses incurred to hire lawyers as well as the fines he might be forced to foot such as the $500,000 bail posted. On the other hand, they will suffer mental and emotional problems because of the isolation they might receive from other people or the remarks and rebuke that their family member might receive from the general public from this incident. Other people who will be affected by this event include: Obrien and his family; the family of the four dead New York residents; the groom and his family; the bride and her family; and the four survivors and their families. An analysis of the effects that would be experienced by these people would require another article. Nonetheless, they will suffer from all the fore mentioned effects in different variations. The most shocking thing is that this incident occurred because of a drunk driver.
In conclusion, the paper herein proves that drunk driving has nothing but negative effects on New York’s City’s society particularly on the people aged between 21 and 29 years. Any individual going behind the wheel is clearly a threat to himself and the society as a whole. Moreover, arguments supporting drinking and driving lack proper evidence to ascertain their claims.
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