Whenever someone gets into a car accident it can be a scary, confusing, and stressful experience. If it is discovered that the accident was caused by a drunk driver, then anger and frustration can get added to the post-crash mix of emotions as well. Those feelings can become even more intense if it turns out that the drunk driver walked away from the accident either completely uninjured, or with fewer and less severe injuries than the other driver. As odd as it may seem, this is a fairly common phenomenon, so common that “of course the drunk driver was okay” is a common refrain after drunk driving accidents.
Of course, no one wishes serious injury on anyone after a car accident, even to the person responsible for causing it in the first place. Nonetheless, it can seem unfair and frustrating if the irresponsible and reckless driver is the less seriously hurt of the two. There are many reasons why drunk drivers are more likely to survive an accident, but that does not mean that they will go unpunished. If you were the victim of an accident, then you can file an injury claim to get the compensation you need to take care of your injuries and any other accident-related expenses. No one wants drunk drivers to suffer any serious injuries, but that does not mean that they should not face any consequences for their actions; a personal injury lawyer on your side will make sure that they do.
The Physical Reasons Why Drunk Drivers Survive Car Accidents
One of the bitter ironies about drunk drivers is that the reason they caused a car accident is also one of the reasons why they may end up surviving that accident. And that reason is a slowed-down reaction time. One of the elements of being drunk is that it drastically slows down a person’s perception and reaction time. In terms of driving, this is obviously bad since it means the drunk driver will not be able to react in time to any obstacles, hazards, or other drivers on the road, so they are more likely to cause an accident. However, in terms of crashing, impaired reaction times may actually be helpful.
The reason is that sober drivers tend to tense up and brace for impact as they are about to cash, but that can make things worse. Car accidents typically involve three points of impact; the car hitting another object, the occupants hitting the interior of the car, and the internal organs hitting against the inside of the body. The sudden deceleration is what causes those impacts to be so severe, but when someone tenses up for the crash, those impacts can be even worse. That is because the act of bracing for impact reduces the distance of deceleration, which makes injuries more likely to happen.
An impaired driver may not be able to react in time to brace themselves, which means that their bodies are more relaxed during the crash, which lessens the severity of impacts. That is because a relaxed body reduces the force of the impact of the crash, which is why people who are performing an activity that might cause them to fall are advised to go limp in order to prevent more serious injuries from happening. So when a crash happens, the person who is unaware of it is less likely to brace for it and more likely to escape with minimal injuries, or no injuries at all.
The Biochemical Reasons Why Drunk Drivers Survive Car Accidents
There is a working theory that alcohol actually affects the physiological reactions of the body to trauma, which means that people at higher levels of intoxication suffer less than those who are sober. This clearly does not mean that being drunk is a good thing, rather it explains why their injuries are often less severe. This theory basically states that drunk drivers do not necessarily get injured less than sober drivers, but rather that they are less likely to die from those injuries. It is usually the body’s reaction to trauma, rather than the trauma itself, that leads to death and alcohol may have an effect on how the body reacts to injuries.
Research conducted at the County Harbor-UCLA Medical Centre from 2004 to 2008 showed that 1% of drunk patients died from their injuries while 7% of sober patients succumbed to theirs. On the whole, that survey showed that drunk patients had a 65% chance of survival. A separate study at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles looked at national data covering over 14,000 patients. It showed that 7.7% of patients with major head injuries died compared to 9.7% of sober patients who died from their injuries. That is a big difference which shows that alcohol in the system has an effect on a person’s mortality after an accident.
Some research shows that alcohol prevents the cascade of physiological reactions that occur with physical trauma, thus preventing any fatal complications from happening. That is because when physical trauma occurs, the body releases chemicals that inhibit certain reactions in the brain which can slow down the healing process. Alcohol may act as a buffer that counters those reactions so the body can heal faster. Researchers are quick to state that this is not an endorsement of drinking and driving or even excessive drinking in general, because chronic drinkers can have other problems that can lead to poor health. And of course, if people do not drink and drive, then they may not end up in dangerous accidents to begin with.
Drunk Driving is Always a Bad Idea
Regardless of the mortality rate, drunk driving is always a terrible and reckless action to take. Even if the driver escapes the accident physically unscathed, they could still face legal repercussions that can have a profoundly negative effect on their life. There are emotional repercussions as well, especially if the accident resulted in the serious injury, or even death, of the occupants in the other vehicle. So no matter how high the odds of survivability in a car accident are for drunk drivers, it is still a bad idea that could have dreadful consequences for them and anyone else who happens to be on the road with them.