Alcohol is a highly dangerous substance. Chronic use not only has long-term health effects, but it also impairs use from functioning normally. After a certain percentage of alcohol enters the body, it begins to “override” the brain’s natural functions. People lose their muscle coordination and have a reduced sense of balance. Drunk driving has been a problem since the creation of the automobile. There have been countless deaths worldwide due to alcohol-impaired driving. A young man in Florida changed his whole life, and the lives of several others by making the choice to drive while under the influence. He now has a powerful message for others who are considering the same poor choice.
Alcohol Leads to Tragedy.
Back in 2010, a young man made headlines in Florida for driving drunk and crashing into a deputy’s car. Chris Caudilla who was 26 at the time drove the wrong way down the freeway. The crash was fatal to the deputy and he passed away. Chris’ choice to drive under the influence gave him a 15 year sentence, charged with manslaughter, as well as, driving under the influence.
He says he spends his days, mostly, just thinking about the deputy and his family. He deeply regrets how his unfortunate choice will forever impact the deputy’s family. In 2016, an organization called WeSaveLives, gave him the opportunity to work on a project that would help him to turn an unfortunate situation into a learning opportunity for others. They advocate against driving while impaired. Their goal is simple, as their name states, they hope to save lives, and to prevent others from facing the lifetime of regret that will now haunt the young Florida man forever.
Attempting to Make Amends.
The project created by the organization is shown in a video as having a very “magic mirror effect”. Men would come in to use the restroom in a bar and upon washing their hands would set off a sensor. The sensor would then cause the mirror to show Chris from the prison. He would interact with each man to come in and each would have the opportunity to ask one another questions.
Through their conversations, they would eventually hit on the harsh reality of drunk driving and its negative outcomes. The project gave Chris the opportunity to share his story and hopefully inspire others to make smarter, safer, and more responsible decisions.
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Alcohol-Impaired Driving: Statistics and Harsh Realities.
Studies show an alarming number of alcohol and vehicle-related fatalities that are happening daily. According to the Department of Transportation, “Every day, about 32 people in the United States die in drunk driving crashes — that’s one person every 45 minutes.” According to Forbes, who credits the CDC with this information, said that in 2018 there were around 147 million alcohol impaired drivers on the road.. More fatalities occur on the weekends than during the week, almost twice as many according to NHTSA.
While the numbers for this next statistic are much lower, it is a more alarming concern because it involves underaged drinking and driving while impaired. According to the CDC, “About 6% of teens surveyed in the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey said they drove while drinking within the past 30 days. That included 7% of males. Nearly 17% of teens surveyed admitted to driving in a car while a driver who had been drinking.” The number of recorded deaths related to those driving under the influence range from hundreds to thousands for each state.
This tragedy is something that occurs in every state and will continue to devastate families everywhere unless we begin to make more responsible choices when it comes to alcohol consumption.
Be Part of the Drunk Driving Solution.
There are so many things that can prevent these fatalities, as recommended on government websites and one not legally recommended but can certainly play a part in saving the lives of teens. Being proactive means planning in advance. Prior to drinking, be sure you know how you’ll be getting home. Some options are a sober and designated driver, a ride share, or a driving service such as Uber or Lyft.
Always look out for your friends and the people partying with you. Because alcohol can impair judgment and other brain functions it’s important to intercept someone around you who may be attempting to drive themselves. If you are hosting a party, implement a key policy. It could look something like, taking keys and providing them a safe and cozy place to sober up for the night.
While illegal if under 21, many teens and young adults still have access to alocohol. After all, life is a learning process and journey for each of us. Parents should speak with teens and young adults about a no questions asked policy, meaning your child can call you anytime for a ride home, no questions asked. Kids make questionable choices sometimes but will be more likely to confide in or call upon you for help if they don’t fear the repercussions.
By providing teens and young adults with this safety net, they may reach out to you rather than get drunkenly behind the wheel or in the passenger seat with someone who intends to drive while under the influence. Although the video was created several years ago, the content is still just as relevant. This is because events like the one in 2010, as mentioned above, still happen all too often. Unfortunately, addiction takes on many forms and almost always has some kind of underlying predisposition.
With so many resources available, such as Uber, eliminating alcohol-impaired driving can easily be done. People everywhere will continue to face harsh realities as they lose people they love, until society learns from the mistakes of the past and chooses to make more responsible choices.
- “Drunk Driving.” NHTSA. Retrieved September 18, 2022.
- “Drunk Driving Statistics 2022.” Forbes. Les Masterson. February 10, 2022.
- “Home.” We Save Lives. Retrieved September 18, 2022.
- “What Works: Strategies to Reduce or Prevent Alcohol-Impaired Driving.” CDC. Retrieved September 18, 2022.