Now that Spring Break and St. Patrick’s Day are behind us, we can drive the open road without the fear of getting struck by a drunk driver, right?
Wrong! Each day, people under the influence of alcohol get behind the wheel and endanger the lives of everyone on the road. While drunk drivers can come from any background, any culture, anywhere, driving under the influence is a growing problem in the Latino community, in particular.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), drinking patterns among the Latino community differ from those of other racial and ethnic groups. For example, Hispanics have higher abstinence rates than non-Hispanic whites, but Hispanics who do choose to drink tend to consume alcohol in higher volumes than non-Hispanic whites.
The combination of heavy drinking and driving while impaired have resulted in a staggering number of alcohol-related car accidents and deaths in the Latino community. According to a recently published study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2006:
- Over 42,000 Hispanics were killed in traffic accidents, with 42 percent of those deaths occurring in alcohol-related car accidents.
- Over 5,000 Hispanics were seriously injured in traffic accidents, with 49 percent of those injuries occurring in alcohol-related car accidents.
In addition to drunk driving violations and injuries and deaths resulting from alcohol-related car accidents, alcohol dependence and liver disease are also common consequences of heavy drinking in the Latino community.
However, every problem has a solution and drunk driving in the Latino community is no exception. For example, NHTSA has created a comprehensive toolkit designed to help reduce drinking and driving in Latino communities.