Driving while under the influence is a serious problem in our present society. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and injures someone every two minutes. (“Impaired Driving”) What should be a cause of concern is that the youths are most often involved in alcohol related driving accidents. Statistics shows that although young drivers make up only 14% of the US Population, youths aged 16-24 have been involved in 28% of the alcohol-related driving accidents.
Despite these statistics however I believe that we still should not conclude that youths are most dangerous drivers and are the sole responsible for cases of drinking and drunk driving. I believe that the incidence of alcohol related accidents involving young drivers are aggravated by the fact that these drivers are not only relatively inexperienced drivers because of their young age but also because they have less tolerance for alcohol compared to an adult.
It must be stressed however that drinking and the cases of drunk driving have been declining among young drivers. Studies show that drinking among the youth has been consistently dropping. Research shows that there is a downward trend of alcohol consumption among high school students according to a PRIDE Survey released Sept. 1999 which states that the proportion of both junior and senior high school students who have consumed any alcohol during the year has dropped again for the third year in a row.
This is confirmed by in a study which declared that within a period of about 20 years, the proportion of American high school seniors who have ever consumed alcohol is down 13%; have consumed alcohol within the previous year is down 15%; have consumed alcohol within previous 30 days is down 27%; have recently consumed alcohol daily is down 67%; have “binged” is down 24%. (“Young Drivers and Alcohol”) Thus, my message for the youth of today is that the perception that more and more high school students are drinking and are driving even when drunk is without any substance and basis.
Empirical research has proven these perceptions to be inaccurate. High school students who are not into drinking or driving while being under the influence of alcohol should not therefore be pressured into doing the same because such is not the norm in our present society but a mere deviance. The norm is still that young people are staying away from alcohol and that more and more young people do not drive when drunk.
Although alcohol problems and drunk driving have been on a downward trend, the reality is that too many young people end up dead or seriously injured as a result of the incidence of drunk driving in our society. Countless lives have been lost and we expect thousands more to die if drunk driving will continue to be tolerated by our contemporary society. Increasing the period of imprisonment is I think a reactive solution as most people who are drunk no longer have the presence of mind to think of the possible penalty that will be meted against them when they are caught.
A proactive solution to this problem is the conduct of awareness programs on the extent of this problem. People have to become aware that when they drink and drive they become a danger not only to themselves but to other people as well. There is a high probability that they could either get killed or kill an innocent civilian. The second step will be for the society as a whole to be vigilant and not to tolerate people who drink and drive. This can be done by means of social disapproval or pressuring a friend not to drink especially when he will drive.
Friends and family members play a very important part in the success of this task since they are considered authority figures who may persuade a person not to drink or a person who is drunk not to drive. This message will not back in the sense that the youth will begin to think that drinking and drunk driving are the norms because I have established that such is not the case. Empirical research has shown that there is no scientific basis in the statement that more and more youth people are drinking alcohol and are drinking while being under the influence of alcohol.
Not only did I establish that drinking and drunk driving are not social norms but I also established that people in our present society would rather stay away from such vices. Further, my message placed the responsibility for drinking and drunk driving not only to the person who is drunk but also to the families, relatives and friends of the person who is drunk. We cannot stop this problem by increasing the period of imprisonment, rather, every member of our society must be vigilant and take an active part in controlling this problem.