From fender-benders to fatal pile-ups, car crashes can often be traced back to one fundamentally dangerous decision, a truth we are reminded of daily as your San Jose car accident injury law firm. Opting to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a choice that endangers countless lives. We are proud of our work helping victims of impaired driving and we are also committed to making these accidents a thing of the past.
Police Eye Alcohol-Involvement in San Jose Crash
Authorities believe alcohol consumption contributed to a serious crash in San Jose early Thursday morning. According to the San Jose Mercury News, it was just after midnight when a Chevy Suburban and Honda CRV collided near Almaden Expressway and Coleman Avenue. The Chevy driver was taken to the hospital with life threatening injuries. Police report that the other driver, who also incurred serious injuries, will be arrested on charges including suspicion of driving under the influence.
Impaired Driving: One of the NTSB’s Focal Issues for 2014
Every year, the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) prepares a Most Wanted List setting forth the group’s top advocacy priorities. For 2014, as detailed in an agency fact sheet, eliminating substance impaired driving is one of these ten priorities. The NTSB notes that nearly 90% of all transportation-related fatalities in the U.S. involve motor vehicles, adding that many of these deaths are wholly preventable because they involved drug or alcohol impairment.
While campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s made significant progress, the percentage of motor vehicle fatalities involving alcohol impairment has been stuck at one-third since 1995. One of seven surveyed drivers admitted to driving when they believed they were at or over the legal blood alcohol limit and some 10.3 million people admitted to driving while under the influence of an illicit drug. These numbers do not capture the growing number of drivers under the influence of legal drugs and we are fairly confident that more people drove impaired than were willing to admit to the act.
The NTSB’s Suggestions for Tackling the Problem
The NTSB also presents wide-ranging suggestions for tackling the problem of substance-impaired drivers. These begin with a call for improved data collection, including studies aimed at reviewing the effectiveness of various intervention techniques. As for prevention, the agency discusses two types of efforts: General and Specific deterrence. General deterrence involves measures directed at the public as a whole, including a call lowering the BAC limit to 0.05 and employing high-visibility enforcement efforts. Specific deterrence, efforts aimed at identifiable individuals, recommendations include the creation of dedicated DWI courts that focus on changing driver behavior. The NTSB also calls for using technology to help combat impaired driving, employing tools like ignition interlocks (which prevent impaired drivers from operating equipped vehicles), passive alcohol sensors (which help officers identify dangerous drivers), and Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (an in-development, in-vehicle system to prevent alcohol impaired driving). These recommendations supplement the NTSB’s current, on-going efforts
The Role of Civil Courts in Preventing Impaired Driving
We believe that the civil courts play an often under-appreciated role in the fight against impaired driving. Criminal cases focus on the offense, civil cases focus on the impact. In civil suits, the offender must face the people who were hurt by their actions. They see the injured and the grieving and learn about how their choice impacted others. This is powerful deterrence against future impaired driving, particularly since most people who drive under the influence do not believe they will cause harm. Publicizing civil injury suits helps call attention to the true results of impaired driving. Of course, there is also the disincentive provided by the monetary verdicts – a civil judgment costs a lot more than cab fare!
If you or a loved one has been hurt by a substance-impaired driver, our San Jose DUI injury law firm can help you recover monetary compensation and your story may help prevent future tragedies. Call to arrange a free consultation.
(Photo by Ryan Gageler)