As the Labor day weekend approaches police across the nation are cracking down on drunk driving. Those of us who see the tragic results of dangerous driving behavior support the police and hope that our phones ring silent next week. That’s why 5 of us (Steve Lombardi, Devon Glass, Michael Bryant, Steve Lombardi and Rick Shapiro), all members of Injury Board, are writing about highway safety this month _ focusing on the interstate highway system. So today I write about alcohol and the intoxicated user of the interstate highways from Hawaii to Virginia. Our families, like yours, will be on the highways and roads this weekend and we pray that they all come home safe.
The question posed by Steve Lombardi about a death and injury collisions on an interstate highway makes a good point. Who wins and loses when a Ford Focus and a fully-loaded semi-truck crash? – Steve Lombardi from The Lombardi Law Firm (Iowa), August 25, 2009
Let me add some fuel to the discussion by asking how many of the drivers of the Ford Focus or the truck are drunk at any given moment on our interstate highways? That grandmother that, like Mr. Lombardi, likes to push 70 mph on the interstate is a lot safer than the college kid or Realtor in the Ford Focus who is going 45 mph with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.17. In fact there is no comparison. The statistics are remarkable. Forty percent (40%) _ let me pause and catch my breath _ of car crash deaths in Hawaii involve drunk drivers. Forty percent (40%) of the fatal automobile accidents in Hawaii are alcohol related. I wrote on this subject on Monday: Drunk Drivers Caused 40% of Traffic Fatalities In Hawaii In 2006
But where are the accidents happening? Are they more frequent on interstate highways across the country? I wonder what Devon Glass from Church Wyble, P.C. and Steve Lombardi from The Lombardi Law Firm and Mike Bryant see in the highway injury and death statistics in Michigan, Iowa and Minnesota. Mike was recently installed as the president of the Minnesota Association of Justice and is a nationally recognized expert in accident and injury prevention. Or what does Rick Shapiro see on Highways in Virginia or Washington D.C.? Let’s look at an interesting data source that puts geography – accident location – into the drunk driving car crashes that happen on or highways. Check out DUIMap.org:
RiskyRoads.org Maps Fatal Accident Hot Spots
Find out if you live or work near a Drunk Driving or Fatal Accident Hot Spot
Atlanta, GA (PRWEB) March 3, 2009 — Today, MapLarge.com released a set of online mapping tools that anyone can use to view the most fatal and stressed roads in our nation’s transportation infrastructure. The Risky Roads map shows the areas with the most traffic fatalities and the DUI Map shows the areas with the most DUI related traffic fatalities.
Map of DUI Accidents
Florida and Georgia Road Maps show the enormous amount of traffic increases on our roads. Many highways and roads have more than doubled the amount of traffic they carry in the last six years.
Using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, RiskyRoads.org maps the concentration of fatal accidents that occur within 1000 feet of one another. The result is a heat map that emphasizes the country’s worst hot spots for traffic fatalities.
State DUI Maps
DUIMap.org is a heat map showing concentrations of fatal DUI accidents. Clusters of DUI fatalities highlight the most dangerous areas where drunk driving accidents occur.
Risky Roads reminds us of a chilling statistic from the Center For Disease Control (CDC):
According to the CDC, 36 people die every day due to drunk drivers. The national annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $51 billion.
I blinked at the fact that the CDC has the word "disease" in its name and we were talking about car crashes and truck collisions. But then I realized that people cause the death and injury and that alcoholism is a disease.
So let’s look at DUI related car deaths in Honolulu via DUIMap.org and Risky Roads:
This heat map displays concentrations of fatal Drunk Driving traffic accidents in Hawaii. Clusters of DUI fatalities highlight the most dangerous areas where drunk driving accidents occur. Each icon on the map represents the location of a DUI motor vehicle crash that resulted in a fatality. The color of the icon represents the number of additional DUI motor vehicle crashes within 1 mile. Click on each icon to see the date and time of the accident.
In DUIMaps you can zome in to see the street and exact locations. As you can see, all three of Hawaii’s interstate highways are on this map and we have a number of death cases involving alcohol on the H-1. You can also see this map in a satellite photo with just one click:
Drilling down to see an area of particular interest gets me back to my article on the 55 mph speed limit in Hawaii. I have written two recent articles on the subject of speed and interstate highways:
Hawaii Freeway Chronicles #1: What Are The Danger Points On H-1, H-2 and H-3?, by Wayne Parsons of Wayne Parsons Law Offices. (Hawaii), August 27, 2009, and Death and Injury On Interstate Highways Increase With Higher Speed Limits, Wayne Parsons, August 29, 2009 2:31 AM. In the latter I talked about the 45 mph speed limit in a section on the H-1 going through McCully and about the road rage that we experience from drivers who hate to have to slow down. As I look at the accident map below from DUIMap.org it seems that there are no DUI deaths in that section for the time period covered by the map.
So what is it? Does the lower speed limit save lives? Or is an interstate highway inherently safer because it has one way traffic, regulated interchanges with safe on ramps and off ramps and several lanes of travel? What do you think? I’d like to hear from Lombardi, Glass, Bryant and Shapiro on this subject. And from the outside it would be great to hear the voice of transportation engineers and MADD who really are the ones fighting for safer street and interstate highways.
Devon Glass has written on the subject of interstate highway safety and his articles are worth a careful read:
Are Double-Bottomed Semis More or Less Dangerous to You? – Devon Glass from Church Wyble, P.C. (Michigan), August 26, 2009;
In the latter article Devon points to engineering reasons for his article title. Why does speed matter?
· It increases the distance a vehicle travels from the time a driver detects an emergency to the time a driver reacts.
· It increases the distance needed to stop a vehicle once an emergency is perceived.
· It increases the “crash energy” by the square of speeds—when an impact speed increases from 40 to 60 mph, the energy that needs to be managed increases by 125%. In other words, the crash impact is going to be astronomically greater than if you were going at a slower speed.
Add slower reaction times, blurred vision and fatigue caused by alcohol and the situation deteriorates rapidly. A half a second slower to hit the brakes means the car crash is significantly higher impact.
I am interested in the view from the satellite in Lansing and Des Moines and St. Cloud.
When it comes to highway safety on the interstate highway system, one thing is for sure: drinking and driving don’t mix. If you drink, stay off the interstate be it the H-1 or I-95.
Why Speeders on the Highway Cause More Serious Accidents, Glass, August 28, 2009
A resident of Honolulu, Hawaii, Wayne Parson is an Injury Attorney that has dedicate his life to improving the delivery of justice to the people of his community and throughout the United States. He is driven to make sure that the wrongful, careless or negligent behavior that caused his clients' injury or loss does not happen to others.