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Drivers ED Module 06

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Both state and national statistics indicate that
each year almost 40% of all traffic fatalities are alcohol related.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that there were 10,839 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2009—32% of the total traffic fatalities for the year. That statistic means that someone is killed by a drunk driver almost every 48 minutes.
All states now have minimum drinking age laws (21+ years old).
The NHTSA estimates that these laws have reduced traffic fatalities involving drivers 18 to 20 years old by 13% and have saved an estimated 27,675 lives since 1975. In 2009, an estimated 623 lives were saved by minimum-drinking-age laws.
Ethyl alcohol
is the most commonly used and abused drug in the United States.
Alcohol
is a depressant. The initial effects of alcohol may heighten your mood, but you will also become overconfident, your attention span is shortened, and your ability to think, speak, and move will slow down.
Effect on decision-making and how the brain processes information is loss of self-control, confusion, and an inability to concentrate are common consequences of drinking alcohol. If you drink enough alcohol, you might not be lucky enough to experience the hangover. With too much alcohol, you are at risk of vomiting in your sleep and dying by asphyxiation, lowered heart rate, or even slipping into a coma.
Teenagers are still developing emotionally.
A young person is forming a sense of personal identity and faces a lot of social situations that require difficult choices, with significant moral, emotional, and physical consequences. Alcohol disrupts this process by producing a chemical reaction that affects the process of learning how to deal with others, carry out responsibilities, and handle problems.
Alcohol affects
brain function and sensory perception directly, with judgment being the first to go. Things like distance and speed perception become much more difficult. Being unable to accurately sense one's surroundings together with a slower reaction time makes any driver a danger to everyone.
Alcohol changes your sense of judgment
Your sense of speed, distance, and depth perception change drastically when you drink. An impaired driver is usually unable to sense the distance between cars and the space needed to escape a collision. People who drive under the influence engage in risky behavior.
Alcohol slows reaction time
Drinking alcohol slows your reflexes and changes your hand-eye coordination. Alcohol slows your cognition and ability to make decisions. This includes the ability to perceive danger and react quickly. In order to drive safely, a driver needs to pay attention to a number of things. This includes using signals, steering, and pressing the accelerator or brake. Drivers impaired by alcohol have a hard time performing more than one task at a time. A drunk driver often forgets to turn on or dim the headlights. Impaired drivers tend to stare straight ahead and have difficulty using their eyes to scan. Road signs are easily missed and inappropriate lane changes aren't uncommon.
Alcohol can affect your vision
Drivers rely on good vision to operate a motor vehicle. You must have good peripheral and night vision if you want to drive. Regular eye function also changes under the influence of alcohol.
When you drink your vision will be affected—whether you are looking straight ahead, attempting to drive in the dark, or sensing objects to the side. This is because alcohol slows the eye's
• Pupil movement.
• Rapid eye movement,
• And focus ability.
After drinking, it can be difficult for you to see vehicles approaching. There are times when your side vision may be completely eliminated.
Driving under the influence
alcohol distorts one's perception and hinders their ability to safely operate a car. Leads to risk-taking and puts everyone -the driver, passengers, and other people on the road - in a potentially deadly situation. When these effects are combined with the driving inexperience, the results are often deadly.
Blood alcohol level (BAL)
the percentage of alcohol in your blood determines your level or impairment. When you drink alcohol, it filters through your liver and is absorbed into your blood stream. The alcohol level is the ratio between alcohol and blood. For example: a 0.08% BAL means that there are eight drops of alcohol for every 9,992 drops of blood in your body.
Peer pressure
Pressure from a peer group, especially when individuals in the group condone alcohol, drug use, and other high-risk activities, can encourage you to take the same attitude.
Influence of parents
Negative examples or even supporting teenage drinking by family members affect likelihood of drinking at young age.
There are parents who think that allowing children to drink at home will keep them out of trouble. A recent study showed that children allowed by parents to drink at home, drink more compared to children not allowed to drink.
If they drink, children of alcoholics are four to nine times more likely to develop severe alcohol problems than others. The risk may be even higher along parent-child gender lines (father-son, mother-daughter).
Sociological factors
Where you live can affect your attitude toward drinking, smoking, and drug use. An interesting study shows that, although students may choose their peer group, parents choose the community. Neighborhood norms established by adult neighbors shape teenage behavior in the areas of smoking, drinking, and marijuana use.
Anxiety and frustration
Worries about school, athletics, dating, jobs, family, etc., are all a part of growing up. More serious issues involving sex, self-esteem, and abuse exist as well. If these worries and pressures become too much, and a young person has no one to turn to, they might turn to alcohol or drugs to seek relief.
Just out for a good time
Drinking goes hand in hand with partying for some teenagers. Getting drunk just for the fun of it, being social, testing how much one can drink, and drinking to be more outgoing are some common reasons teens drink.
Physiological (body-related) factors:
The size of a person's body: The more blood you have, the more alcohol you will be able to ingest before the effects become visible. In this case, a larger person will generally have a lower BAL than a smaller person if drinking the same amount of alcohol. However, a higher body weight due to fat may not be helpful. This is because alcohol will not dissolve in fatty tissue.
The amount of alcohol in a drink:
The more alcohol in a drink and the more drinks consumed during a given time period, the higher the BAL.
Any amount of alcohol, whether it comes in the form of beer, wine, or hard spirits, has the power to impair driving and will raise your BAL. The type of drink will not matter. The following drinks will raise your BAL to the same level:
• A 12 ounce beer with 5% alcohol
• A 5 ounce glass of wine with 12% alcohol
• A shot of 80 proof alcohol (hard liquor)
The amount of time the user engages in drinking:
If a user drinks quickly, his or her BAL will be higher because the alcohol has less time to break down. If a user drinks at a much slower rate, the BAL will be lower.
The amount of food that a person eats:
eating food first may coat the stomach lining and slow the absorption of what you drink—but this only lasts for a short time. Any alcohol you drink will eventually enter your blood.
The gender of the person drinking:
Women do not process alcohol as well as men. This is in part due to weight; women weigh less on average. Women's bodies also produce less alcohol dehydrogenase, the enzyme which breaks down alcohol.
How Drinking Affects Your Brain
Within minutes of the first drink, the brain's ability to function normally can rapidly diminish. Alcohol absorbed into the blood stream is carried to the brain, which is significant because the brain uses more blood than any other part of your body.
How Drinking Affects Your Stomach/Intestines
About 5% of alcohol consumed is absorbed in the mouth and throat. The other 95% is then absorbed within the digestive system. Alcohol has the ability to irritate your stomach lining and intestines; this can lead to vomiting which also increases blood flow to the stomach and intestines. Secretions of these organs is also increased (especially stomach acid secretion). Excessive consumption of alcohol may cause bleeding in the stomach.
How Drinking Affects Your Liver
The liver's function is to remove poisons (including alcohol) from the body. It works by creating substances that fight infections and help blood clotting. Your liver also detoxifies many substances in the blood. Alcohol may cause illnesses like alcoholic hepatitis (inflammation) or cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver.
Statistics related to alcohol absorption:
• About 2-5 % of the all alcohol consumed passes unchanged by the body's functions.
• Less than 10 % of the total is eliminated through the kidneys, lungs and skin.
• The remaining 90% must be slowly eliminated by your liver through the process of oxidation.
How Drinking Affects Your Blood
Alcohol also causes your red blood cells to clump together, which clogs up your blood vessels. Your tissues are deprived of oxygen and may result in cell death.
• You may become anemic.
• You may have reduced red and white blood counts, which in turn lowers your resistance to infection.
Many prescription medicines can affect your driving ability and reflexes.
You should also be aware that alcohol increases the side effects of many drugs.
SOME FACTS ABOUT DRUGS AND DRIVING:
• Most drugs taken for headaches, colds, hay fever, allergies, or stress are sedatives. They can make you drowsy and impair your driving abilities.
• Any drug can make driving unsafe. Prescription medications used in combination with alcohol can be dangerous.
• Drivers should always ask doctors or pharmacists how prescription medications may affect driving.
• Many drugs have unexpected effects when combined with drinking.
• Some drugs (pep pills, "uppers," and diet pills) may make a driver more alert for a short time. However, known side effects may include nervousness, dizziness, and lack of concentration. These drugs can also impair vision.
• Using readily available drugs like cough syrups (which usually contain alcohol) while driving can be considered driving under the influence.
The effects of marijuana:
1. Reaction time is often slower. This gives the driver less time to react to and avoid hazards.
2. Drivers often fail to recognize traffic signs, signals, and pavement markings.
3. Marijuana use introduces a passive mood. Users show increased tendency to drive at slower speeds, which can impede traffic flow.
4. Users' attention spans are limited. Concentrating on several things at once becomes more difficult.
5. The ability to sense time and distance relationships is lessened. This causes difficulty in judging adequate passing, following, and stopping distances.
6. Pupils respond to light slowly. Therefore, you will not be able to adjust properly to changes in light or darkness.
Your license will be suspended for a period of one year if you are found guilty of marijuana possession.
Here are a few ways to avoid driving while intoxicated:
• Abstain from drinking alcohol
• Use public transportation
• Appoint a designated driver
• Stay where you are until sober
• Drink responsibly at home
• Encourage friends to stay overnight if you think they are impaired
• Let someone sober drive the car for you
You should watch out for drivers that exhibit the following tendencies:
• Driving faster than conditions allow
• Sporadic changes in speed or slow driving in the "fast" lane
• Driving over the curb, changing into the wrong lane, weaving, or straddling two lanes
• Frequent and unnecessary lane changes
• Driving over the center-line or crossing a double yellow line
• Stopping short of a stop sign, overshooting a stop sign, running a stop sign; alternately, stopping for a green light or stopping on the road
• Failure to signal or deceptive signaling
• Driving at night with no lights or failing to dim bright lights
• Risky maneuvering or showing off
If you think the driver next to you is drunk,
slow down and let him or her go by. You can even pull over to let the driver pass. It is safer to have an impaired driver in front of you than behind you. Keep a safe distance from the car.
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