Fatal Wrong Way Crash Suggests We Need to Do More to Discourage Drunk Driving
Despite extensive investment in law enforcement resources and public service messages, many people continue to operate motor vehicles even though their driving ability is impaired by alcohol. Drunk driving has long been the most significant contributing factor in fatal car accidents. Approximately one third of all car crash-related fatalities involve alcohol impaired drivers. Tragically, accidents caused by drunk drivers claim the lives of about 10,000 people per year even though these accidents are a hundred percent preventable. When drivers choose to operate a motor vehicle when intoxicated, the consequences can be horrific accidents that cause life-altering injuries and wrongful death.
A recent accident in Southern California provides a tragic example of the devastating consequences of the decision to drink and drive. A driver who is believed to have been driving drunk caused a collision involving multiple vehicles when she drove the wrong direction down a busy freeway according to a Los Angeles Times report. A highway patrol officer indicated that the wrong way driver collided head-on into another vehicle which led to other vehicles also being involved in the crash. At least two vehicle occupants were ejected.
The wrong way driver was arrested for suspicion of felony DUI and felony manslaughter in the wake of the fatal crash that claimed the lives of six people. The driver who was charged also suffered serious injuries including a broken femur and ruptured bladder according to the news report. While the investigating officers have not yet obtained the results of blood tests to determine the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the wrong way driver, a spokesman for the coroner's office indicated that they "believe from what they found in the vehicle that alcohol was involved."
Despite aggressive law enforcement tactics like saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints, many drivers continue to operate motor vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. Tragedies like this one are far too common which is why the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently suggested two new proposals to mitigate the role of alcohol in causing collisions. The NTSB suggested reducing the level at which a driver is considered too impaired to drive from .08 percent BAC to .05 percent BAC. The federal agency also recommended that states require all drivers convicted of DUI to install an ignition interlock device. While it is not clear whether these proposals will be adopted, there is no question that we are a long way from eradicating the drunk driving epidemic.
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