It’s unclear whether drunk driving is on the increase during the pandemic, but there are signs that it may be. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced a series of stakeholder workshops to address the unusual traffic safety conditions that have arisen.
According to the agency, these include emptier roads, higher speeds and more impaired driving.
“NHTSA continues to gather facts about reports of increased risky driving behavior on our nation’s roads since the beginning of the national health emergency,” said an agency spokesperson. He added that one goal in prioritizing public safety is to increase education and enforcement.
People are definitely drinking more, and more heavily
The Nielson Corporation recently reported a massive increase in alcohol sales since the week of March 21, when the lockdowns officially began. Sales overall were up 54% during that week and online orders spiked by 262% compared to this time last year.
The nonprofit RAND Corporation’s Social and Economic division followed that information up with a survey of American adults. The details of their survey were published in the journal JAMA Network Open.
The researchers defined heavy drinking among men as five or more drinks within several hours and among women as four or more. They asked survey participants to detail any increase in their drinking, especially heavy drinking, during the periods of April 29-June 9 and from May 28-June 16.
On the whole, American adults between the ages of 30 and 59 have upped their drinking by about 19%. Three out of four adults said they consumed alcohol on one more day per month than they had before.
The most noticeable change was among women, who reported a 41% increase in heavy drinking over the same time last year. And, 10% of women reported alcohol problems, which was an increase of 39% over last year.
Are you coping with the lockdown by drinking?
If you are, you may wish to consider the CDC’s guidance on alternative coping strategies. It’s important to know that drinking alcohol can have serious, long-term health effects.
If you are drinking more, you need to make plans for safe rides. Be aware that you are not in the position to offer a ride to someone or take a quick trip to the grocery store. Plan ahead so you won’t be tempted to drink and drive.
If you are arrested for drunk driving, don’t panic. Instead, contact an experienced DUI defense attorney who can assess your case and help you work towards a positive resolution.