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The continuing threat of drunk driving

Drunk driving remains a serious hazard on Nevada roads, but it can be helpful to reflect on how the problem has changed over the years.

Forty years ago, drunk driving was behind 60% of all fatal traffic accidents in the nation. According to the National Institute of Health, motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of alcohol-related death. More than 66% of fatal motor vehicle accidents involving drivers under age 21 involved alcohol.

Today, the number of drunk driving-related fatalities has been reduced by 50%, with younger drivers in particular being safer. Alcohol is a factor in about 37% percent of traffic fatalities involving drivers under age 21. Comparing statistics from before 1982 with statistics after, NIH researchers determined about 150,000 lives were saved between 1982 and 2001.

So, what changed?

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, activists, lawmakers and law enforcement agencies adopted a multi-pronged approach to cracking down on drunk driving accidents. Lawmakers raised the legal drinking age in all 50 states, began instituting legal limits for blood alcohol concentration and increased penalties for people convicted of drunk driving offenses. Meanwhile, activist groups and government agencies launched widespread campaigns to educate the public about the dangers of drunk driving.

In their own way, personal injury lawsuits can play a part in discouraging drunk driving. When an injured person holds a drunk driver accountable for their negligence, it can show the world that there are consequences for endangering others through careless driving.

Perhaps even more important, a personal injury lawsuit can help the injured or their families cope with the long aftermath of an accident. It can compensate the victim for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and many other types of damages. A skilled attorney can help the injured and their families to understand their options.

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