Recent decades attracted more and more attention of both ordinary people and governmental institutions to the problem of an alcohol-related traffic fatality and drunken driving in particular. In fact, alcohol is a major factor in traffic accidents. Alcohol-related crashes are defined as those where someone involved, either a driver or a pedestrian or another part, had a traceable amount of alcohol in his or her blood.
In most cases, those who are to blame are too intoxicated to realize they caused a tragedy that has possible cost somebody a life. …Especially a child’s life. …Even his or her own child’s life.
Lack of responsibility is the problem to overcome when there are human life and health at stake.
The problem is so overwhelming that it influences every single person around. Numerous accidents and injuries caused by people driving under alcohol influence cannot but make the challenge one of the most burning issues of modern society.
Evening reports rarely leave out such piece of news from the broadcast programs. The statistics are really drastic. According to the National Commission Against Drunk Driving, nearly 600,000 Americans are injured, and more than 17,000 die each year in alcohol-related traffic crashes; 41 percent of the latter are alcohol-related. In fact, every 30 minutes someone dies in an alcohol-related traffic crash and 3 out of every 10 Americans face the possibility of being directly involved in an alcohol-related traffic crash during their lifetime.
The problem is that the driving under the influence is disregarded by those who need to pay attention to it. The only active part of the population is the multiplicity of citizen activist groups. The most famous team is the group Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD). Another is the Insurance Information Institute. These organizations pay considerable attention to the situation on the roads by the support of advertising campaigns and publicity efforts.
Those, who drive carelessly under alcohol or drugs influence, never really believe it might lead to injuries or even fatal outcomes. …Until they get into an alcohol-related traffic fatality that might cause somebody a life.
Moreover, numerous stories prove that even if a drunk person gets into an accident and kills someone, he or she might never really feel sorry for that. The problem is that the social responsibility advertisements and anti-DUI advertising campaigns’ major target audience are the categories of people who have alcohol-related problems and try to deny them by simply not taking them seriously. As a result, innocent people suffer.
In most situations of alcohol-related accidents, there is the unintentional involvement of third persons – passengers, pedestrians, etc. – which is twice worse if those are innocent children. The MADD’s news articles and information booklets often provide tragic stories that happened due to someone’s careless attitude. One of the items I recently came across dealt with the stories of victim passengers who survived and had to cope with the dramatic stories they had to face in the past due to their relative’s alcohol addiction. In particular, the article concentrates on the influence of tragic stories on the lives of young children who become victims or involuntary witnesses of careless driving under alcohol influence.
Children Without a Choice published in DRIVEN magazine in spring 2004 speak for America’s youngest passengers, calling citizens to protect children from the dangers of riding with a drunk driver.
The article’s name emphasizes the main problem within this situation: children usually do not have a choice.
Most of the cases described imply the situation when parents have separated or divorced and provide child’s visitation. Knowing that an ex-spouse has alcohol-related problems, caring parents will not let the child ride with a drunk driver. But this banning might have legal and financial consequences. Of course, the child’s life is priceless, and nobody should stay carefree if it is endangered. That is why the paradoxical situation with the child abuse reporting is so striking. If a parent is disturbed by his ex-spouse’s state, he or she often turn to police stations or child agencies, which is, though logical, does not have any real effect. Both institutions react only if the accident or offense/abuse takes place, which is often too late. When a child suffers or is killed in the crash, or even is only a witness to the fatality, it changes their lives forever.
Most children say they keep on thinking over the tragedy and often blaming themselves for what they are not responsible at all. They often are afraid of their parents who have alcohol-related problems or disrespect them for what they have committed in the past. And though it might sound cruel, the guilty should be punished not only for what they had done but also for the lack of responsibility that leads to the accident. Driving intoxicated initially implies impaired driving, which is reason enough for the fatality to happen. Driving impaired with a child in the car is twice a crime. As one of the CDC’s officials stated: “Some children die of causes, we don’t know how to prevent. But these alcohol-related child passenger deaths are occurring at the rate of one a day — and they are preventable” [Driven, 2004].
Social responsibility for most of us is only a word combination that is in the air more and more often in recent years. But hardly any adult could swear he or she would never become a cause of the alcohol-related traffic accident from either side. Hardly anyone is so aware and responsible for eliminating the possibility of driving under influence or crossing streets being intoxicated. That is why the situation is so hazardous. Only the increase of public awareness of the problem and the strengthening of every individual’s responsibility might prevent the extreme situations on the roads. And there could be no carelessness in this matter. Everyone is responsible.
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