Austin’s dangerous drinking habit is putting residents at risk
Drunk drivers are an increasing plague on Austin roads.
Austin is a fun city. A vibrant music scene, college football, restaurants and bars, and numerous outdoor activities are just a few reasons why Austin residents are proud of their city.
But these events also include drinking – a lot of it. Austin residents consume more alcohol per person than other cities in Texas by a significant margin. During the South by Southwest film festival a year ago, late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel stopped by the city to tape his show. The real reason, he joked, was to stage an intervention. “You have a drinking problem, Austin. You need to stop,” the comedian deadpanned.
While joking, there is truth to the statement. Austin residents spend more on alcohol purchases than any other Texas city, with alcohol purchases up by 50 percent since 2008. During Kimmel’s week in Austin, a drunk driver killed two pedestrians after crashing past barricades and into a crowd of people. In addition to the two fatalities, dozens of event participants were injured.
Increased consumption has led to more drunk drivers on Austin roads. DWI arrests rose 24 percent over the last three years, with thousands more injured because of drunk driving.
Austin ABC affiliated WVUE recently concluded a series entitled “Austin’s Drinking Problem.” The series, which ended in February, highlighted alcohol abuse and irresponsible drinking in the city. WVUE interviewed Yolanda Mason for the series, who was one of the thousands injured because of drunk driving in the last three years.
The drunk driver who injured her had a blood alcohol content more than three times the legal limit at the time of the crash – the driver couldn’t even stand up to do field sobriety tests. Mason, who still suffers from neck, back and shoulder pain, has shown remarkable fortitude since the accident. “I took one for the team I guess, right? I got hurt, but he could’ve killed someone,” she told KVUE.
Alcohol is a dangerous drug
Because of its prevalence, alcohol’s affect on a person’s decision-making and driving ability is often underestimated. A study released in early February by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration dramatically refutes this common assumption. The NHTSA found that drivers with a BAC of .05 – which is under the legal limit – are still seven times as likely to get into an accident as sober drivers. Drivers with a BAC of .2 or above, such as was the case in Mason’s accident, are nearly 25 times more likely to crash.
A personal injury lawsuit can help
While many experts have suggested ways to curb drunk driving and create a safer environment for Austin residents, the fact remains that people know not to get behind the wheel if they have been drinking. Drunk driving is dangerous. Even one or two drinks before driving increases the risk of an accident.
Prevention is the goal of everyone who wants a safe, healthy city. Unfortunately, people who choose to put other lives at risk are still out on Austin roads.
With St. Patrick’s Day and South by Southwest coming in the near future, everyone at Leonard B. Gabbay, P.C. wishes Austin residents a safe and happy time, and urges those drinking to find a sober ride home.
For those injured by drunk drivers, Leonard B. Gabbay, P.C. has years of experience helping accident victims with recovery through a personal injury lawsuit and holding drunk drivers accountable for their actions.