The Harbinger Online

Wasted at the Wheel


*Names changed to protect identity

One person is killed by drunk drivers every 51 minutes in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2013, 10,076 people were killed. Alcohol is involved with countless parties in the East area, according to multiple students, making East students more apt to adding to those numbers.

In a survey put on by CBS News of 600 teens ranging from 15-20, 30 percent admitted to riding with drivers who they knew had been drinking. Drunk driving is taking place throughout the country, and the East community is no exception.

“Everywhere I go, whether it’s a party or just hanging out, there are people drinking,”  junior John Smith* said. “At minimum, one or two people drive home incredibly drunk, and they lie to passengers and say they’re fine.”

At every party involving alcohol, someone ends up drunk driving. There’s always the chance that the driver and passengers may not make it home.

There are many reasons teens make the life-threatening choice to take rides with people who have been drinking. Some students choose to ride with drunk drivers because they don’t think it’s a big deal and don’t realize the consequences. Others get in the passenger seat not knowing the driver is drunk.

In the CBS News poll, 25 percent of teens admitted they were willing to ride with drunk drivers, even if they knew they had been drinking. If this holds true to East, 414 of East’s 1,655 students would be willing to ride with a drunk driver. That’s equivalent to an entire grade. By getting in the car, they put their lives at the hands of someone whose reaction time has been dulled by one-third, with vision reduced to 70 percent, according to Medical News Today.

“I thought that my driver was [sober] enough that it didn’t make a difference to ride with him,” Smith* said. “I didn’t think anything of it because I’ve never actually gotten into a wreck with a drunk driver.”

Teens have to make the choice of whether to take the risk of riding with a drunk driver, or calling their parents and getting in trouble. Many choose the easy, but life-threatening way, because they only consider that they could get in trouble with their parents, according to East students.Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 9.20.15 AM

“I weighed both bad situations and chose to ride with the drunk guy,” Smith* said. “I just picked the one I thought had less backlash if things get bad.”

The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for a driver under 21 is 0.02 percent. It takes only two drinks in one hour to reach a 0.05 percent BAC. That doubles a driver’s chance of getting into an accident.

Some teens ride with drunk drivers, not knowing they have been drinking. Drivers tell people they are sober and haven’t had a drop of alcohol to drink. This puts passengers in a state of unknown, and are put under more risk.

“She was acting totally fine, I didn’t notice that she had been drinking at all,”  sophomore Mary Brown* said. “Someone told me the next day she had been drinking and I didn’t know about it, and I was like ‘Wow, we could’ve been screwed.’”

If a drunk driver gets pulled over, everyone in the car can be given minor in possessions (MIPs), whether they have been drinking or not. Even sober drivers can receive an MIP just for having drunk minors in their car.

Most teens make the decision to get in the car because they don’t want to face their parents when they have been drinking. They take into consideration that they could lose touch with social media and friends, but they don’t realize the hazardous situation they are putting themselves into could end their lives.

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