In a recent issue of The Prospector, a student publication at the University of Texas El Paso, reporter Christian Vasquez details how “DWI will cost you more than a mug shot.”
Lessons learned by those still in school are applicable to those in the workforce, too.
Impaired driving is the main ingredient in a recipe for roadway disaster. The associated costs run the gamut from fines — which can amount to $17,000 or more — and jail time to crash fatalities and injuries. And, then, there is public humiliation.
“Honestly, you feel like a huge loser, and you feel like a huge disappointment to everyone in your life,” said one UTEP student in recounting the impact after he was arrested for DWI.
Texas employers regularly foot the bill for impaired driving in a number of ways. Off-the-job crash injuries drive up insurance premiums and lead to lost productivity because of lost work days. And those are just a couple of examples.
During the 100 deadliest days of summer, 10 people die every day as a result of injuries from a crash involving a teen driver in the U.S., according to a report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Some of the crashes involve drunk driving. Many of the victims are not teens.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 19% of all traffic deaths involving children under the age of 14 are due to an alcohol-impaired driver. Children of your employees are at risk, just as the younger members of your workforce are more likely to become victims.
Data from the Texas Department of Transportation indicates 192 drivers between the ages of 21-24 were killed in drunk driving incidents in 2015. Another 76 teen drivers died due to alcohol-related crashes.
The old can teach the young about responsibility. Or can they? Share this thought from a UTEP student caught driving while drunk: “I just imagined my parents … if they were going to find out, how disappointed they would be, and also school, how it would affect me and my career as well. Everything was flashing before my eyes.”
How does a DUI on or off the job impact the employee at your company? Has this been discussed? An open dialogue — or written safe driving policy — is very helpful for all employees to understand what the consequences might be, especially if they drive as a part of their job.
Investigate these free resources to drive the discussion along further or to create safety reminders at your workplace:
- Impaired Drivers Are Driving Up the Costs of Business
- How to Promote Sober Driving
- Going Out Tonight?
Don’t Be Surprised if Big Heartache is a Result of Little Buzz
And you’re wondering, how much is too much? There is no single answer to this question that applies universally to everyone. Your gender, your body weight, the number of drinks you’ve consumed and the amount of food you’ve eaten all affect your ability to process alcohol.
In general, women, younger people and smaller people tend to show the effects of impairment after consuming smaller amounts of alcohol. In Texas, just as elsewhere across the nation, drivers are legally intoxicated and can be arrested and charged with DWI with a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also is working to spread the message that you don’t have to blow .08 on a breathalyzer to be charged with DUI. NHTSA’s campaign — Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving — asks people to not drive after drinking, period. Because even one drink can make the difference between getting home safely and getting a DUI conviction.
Commercial drivers are legally intoxicated with a .04 BAC. The thing to know is driving ability can be compromised below the legal alcohol limit. Driving requires focus, judgment and quick reflexes. All of these basic behind-the-wheel skills can be jilted by alcohol.
Drunk driving is one component of the four D’s of impaired driving. Don’t forget about distracted driving, drugged driving or drowsy driving. Prescription medications are helpful when taken in the right doses and at the right times. Problems arise when they lead to dependency, addiction, abuse and overdose episodes.
Texas employers spend more than $3 billion every year as a result of on and off the job crash injuries and fatalities. One of the best ways to save money and save lives is to incorporate traffic safety into your regular workplace safety culture. Let us help by making use of our Safety Coach Cards.
On each card, a question appears on one side, the answer on the other. Example: How much does it cost if you’re convicted of a driving while intoxicated offense? (Hint: Think broadly to include not only fines and court costs, but also lost work time and car insurance premiums).
Answer: DWI-related expenses often exceed $17,000. To keep from diving deep into your bank account, designate a safe driver.
Here are four more free resources you can use the next time you circle up for a quick safety huddle in the field: