A recently announced campaign by the newly named U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx will be aimed at educating pedestrians and drivers about the dangers that can come from walking while intoxicated.
Though everyone has heard about the legal and physical dangers that can come from driving drunk, new information released by the Department of Transportation shows that walking drunk is just as deadly. Officials say pedestrian deaths have been on the rise in recent years and a large share of that increase can be attributed to impaired walking.
Officials say that some 4,432 pedestrians were killed in 2011. Of this total, 35 percent of those pedestrians who died had BAC levels above the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle. This is greater than the percentage of auto fatalities related to drunk driving, a number which consistently hovers around 30 percent. The percentage is even higher among younger pedestrians, with a full 50 percent of those killed between the ages of 25 and 34 testing positive for high levels of blood alcohol.
Transportation Secretary Foxx says that the numbers indicate that while the government may have done a good job educating the public about the dangers of drunk driving, little has been done to convey just how deadly it can be to walk under the influence.
We recently discussed how in Minnesota it is not illegal to operate a bicycle while intoxicated. Few people realize that laws dealing with driving under the influence do not extend to those on bicycles because the bicycles are not motorized vehicles. In fact, some bars in Minneapolis are actually advertising to the bicycling set, highlighting the ease of drinking and biking home.
One town in Alaska, apparently unhappy with the scourge of drunken pedestrians, has taken action to address the problem by passing a measure that would make it a crime to walk the streets while impaired. The law says that anyone who walks intoxicated faces a $200 fine. The law understandably raises the question of how a responsible person is supposed to get home if they’ve had one too many drinks at the neighbor bar.
Thankfully, residents of Minnesota do not have to worry about such restrictive laws. Minnesota law (Minnesota Statutes § 340A.902) clearly states that no person can be charged with the offense of drunkenness or public drunkenness. The law treats public intoxication as a social problem, not as a crime. Though public intoxication is not considered a crime, other charges including those relating to property damage or drunk driving may apply depending on the particular actions that were undertaken while a person was intoxicated.
Even though it may not be illegal, experts say anyone considering going for a stroll after drinking should take some important safety tips to heart. First, experts say it’s a good idea to walk in a group. Large groups are much easier for drivers to see and to avoid. Second, try to make sure that at least one of the members of the group has not been drinking. Think of this person as a designated walker, someone who can keep watch over everyone else and make sure no one stumbles into traffic.
Source: Nadia-Elysse Harris, published at MedicalDaily.com.