Feature | Aug. 31, 2006

Don't become another statistic

By Tech. Sgt. Raymond Cronin 1st Fighter Wing Safety Office

Do you have your designated driver? Have you thought that far ahead? Did you make a plan you will stick with? Sadly, not enough military members can answer, "Yes" to all three of these questions. 

The statistics across the military are staggering. 

So far this year, the Air Combat Command has had two Driving Under the Influence-related fatalities and three more are pending toxicology results. Langley has had 16 DUI offenders: two involved accidents; six occurred during the 101 Critical Days of Summer; the average age of the offenders was 26; two of the offenders were under the legal drinking age; 14 of the offenses occurred off base and two occurred on-base. 

It seems like the more we talk about drinking and driving the less we listen. It's as if when the subject comes up, we only hear the garbled sound of Charlie Brown's teacher.
In the United States, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of fatalities in people under the age of 30, and 40 percent of these accidents involve alcohol use. In other words, one in 40 people will, at sometime in their life, be involved in an accident involving alcohol. 

Look around at 40 of your friends - do you think it will be one of them? If not, take a look in the mirror - will it be you? 

It's no surprise that as the amount of alcohol in the driver's blood goes up, the likelihood of an accident multiples. However, the scenario is staggering: a 160-pound person drinking two beers within a one-hour period will have a blood alcohol content of approximately .04, which is below the legal limit, but 1.4 times more likely to have an accident than someone who is sober. Two more beers in the same one-hour period will increase the BAC to approximately .86, which is well above the legal limit, and the likelihood of having an accident is 11 times higher that of a sober driver. Two more beers (up to a six-pack now) within a three-hour period will have a BAC of approximately .10 and the likelihood of having an accident is now 48 times higher than that of a sober driver. Two more beers in the same three-hour period will bring the BAC to approximately 0.15, and the consumer is now 380 times more likely to have an accident than a sober driver, according to http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/drive/a/aa070297.htm. 

Are you going to be the next statistic? Will you be the one in 40 involved in an alcohol-related accident? 

If you don't listen to anything else this year, listen to this: drinking and driving is not the way you want to distinguish your career. You will lose money, respect, and may even lose your life or cause the death of another. Can you live with that? 

Make a plan and stick with it. Be a good Wingman - don't let your buddy drink and drive. There are several agencies on and off base you can call if you need a ride home. If unsure who to call, dial 411 for a taxi, Airmen Against Drunk Driving, or pull out your recall roster and start dialing.