Drinking and Driving

  • 35% of Marion area residents indicated that drug and alcohol use contributes to crashes or injuries
    quite a bit or a great deal (per their response to a random survey in Summer 2004).
  • In Wisconsin, nearly 1 in every 3 crashes that kill people involves alcohol. This makes alcohol the
    highest individual contributor to vehicle deaths in Wisconsin.

Heavy Drinking

Many of us know or know of individuals who have died in car crashes. Some of us know of individuals
who died because of drinking or having drugs while driving. It doesn’t have to be this way. Think of the
lives that would be saved if NO ONE drove after having a few drinks!

Of all deadly car crashes in the United States from 1997-2001, 41% involved alcohol (US Government
Accounting Office). This means that if 100 people are killed in crashes, 41 of them are likely dead due at
least in part to alcohol. This also means that if alcohol were not present, those 41 people may be alive
today. That could be your neighbor, your friend, your relative.

In Wisconsin, the law says the legal Blood Alcohol Content is .08 (8/100ths of 1 percent). According to
the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, this level is reached in a 170-pound man after
drinking 5 12-ounce beers over 2 hours; a 120-pound woman reaches the same limit after 3 beers in 2
hours. While that is the legal limit, recent studies show that even with one drink, a person’s driving skills
decrease. Drinking any amount of alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal, just like shoplifting.

While the cost to human life is the most significant factor, there is also a financial cost. In 2003, the
estimated cost of fatal crashes to rural Wisconsin was $765 million dollars. If the deadly accidents that
involved alcohol hadn’t happened because people had chosen not to drink or didn’t drive themselves, we
might have saved approximately $252 million dollars – over $45/person!

What can YOU do about this issue: If you are drinking, be sure to choose a trusted friend to bring you
home. You can report drivers who are weaving on the roads. Be a friend to others, and take their keys so
they don’t drive drunk. Get involved in the Marion Area Coalition for Healthy Communities to make the
Marion area as safe and healthy as possible. For more information, contact the Marion Area Family
Resource Center in the lower level of the library or at 715.754.2491.

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