Last week Natasha Searcy, a 22-year-old young woman from Douglas County, was charged with vehicular homicide in the first and second degrees, failure to maintain her lane, lack of insurance, and driving under the influence. Searcy was driving drunk in her 1998 Pontiac when she crossed the center line and collided with a car driven by 25-year-old Ashley Ingalsbe. Luke Ingalsbe, age 4, died in the crash, Ashley Ingalsbe died last Monday afternoon. Her 2-year-old son and boyfriend were also seriously injured in the wreck.
Unfortunately, this local incident follows an alarming national trend: more women are driving under the influence and causing fatalities. Last month the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a study which detailed the increasing trend.
FBI data shows that DUI arrests for women have increased 29 percent in the decade between 1998 and 2007. In the same time period, DUI arrests for men decreased by 7.5 percent.
Why are DUI arrests for women increasing while DUI arrests for males are decreasing? Does anybody have any possible explanations?
“Impaired driving is an issue that cuts across all segments of society and, sadly, the number of arrests of women driving under the influence is on the rise. This is clearly a very disturbing trend,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
In 2008, impaired drivers caused nearly 12,000 fatalities. Approximately 2,000 of those fatalities were caused by female drivers who were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Some good news: According to the NHTSA report, DUI fatalities in Georgia decreased for both men and women. From 2007 to 2008, Georgia male DUI drivers in fatal crashes decreased 9 percent, from 337 to 307. In the same period, Georgia female DUI drivers in fatal crashes decreased 6 percent, from 68 to 64.
A nationwide anti-drunk driving campaign is currently underway. It’s known as Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest. The initiative involves over 11,000 police departments and other law enforcement agencies, and it will run through Labor Day weekend. During this time, police will redouble their efforts to nab drunk drivers during this high-risk travel period.
Last year, 40 percent of traffic fatalities during the Labor Day travel period involved a drunk driver. Based on these statistics, one might assume that nearly half of all drivers on the road this weekend will be intoxicated to some degree. Be sure to drive defensively and wear your safety belt.
If you’re going out of town this Labor Day weekend, follow these tips to stay safe and save money:
Slow down! Gas mileage decreases when you go faster that 60 miles per hour. For every five miles per hour over 60 MPH, you’re paying an additional 20 cents or more for each gallon of gas. Likewise, rapid acceleration can lower your gas mileage by 30 percent. Be patient. You’ll get there.
Use cruise control. Cruise control cuts fuel consumption by maintaining a steady speed on the highway. However, cruise control doesn’t give you the freedom to send a text message or program your GPS. When using cruise control, keep your eyes on the road and keep your foot ready to brake.
Turn down the AC. If you leave your vehicle’s AC on high all the time, this can reduce your mileage by up to 20 percent.
Finally, don’t drink and drive! Even if you’ve had “only a few drinks,” stay where you are, get someone else to drive, ride with a friend, or call a cab.