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FAST FORWARD

By T.K. MALHOTRA

Speed and Booze is a World Worrying problem. One million people are killed each year in road accidents world wide. According to the studies at Harvard University, among adults aged fifteen to fourtyfour worldwide, road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for men and the fifth most important cause of death for women. If present trends continue, road accident will be the third most important health problem worldwide by the year 2020, exceeded, only by heart disease and depression and that the Health Ministries will be spending twentyfive per cent of their budgets on road accident victims by 2020 according to the study. Whereas the situation in developed countries has improved and has been further stabilizing during the past few decades, the situation in the developing world is rapidly deteriorating.

Developing countries have only thirtytwo per cent of the total motor vehicle fleet but contribute around eventyfive per cent of the total global road accident deaths. The main victims of the road accidents in developing countries are the vulnerably road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, non-motorized vehicle users and motorcyclists. It is estimated that during the next 10 years alone, a total of at least 6 million people will die and over 60 million will be crippled or injured as a result of road accidents in developing countries unless immediate attention is paid to address this problem. Driving a car after consuming alcohol is as worst as driving a ‘coffin on wheels’. People have tendency to drink heavily to celebrate Holi, New Year Eve, Christmas and other customs related festivals. Statistics taken in some countries reveal that drivers under the influence of drink cause 30 to 50 per cent of fatal accidents. Many feel that effect of alcohol on driving is not that serious as publicised by reformers. A couple of drinks or a little more does not impair their driving vision, rather pumps in extra energy to smart driving. Sadly such people live in false elusion, which may cost life. Some of the Factors which intensify the effect of alcohol are :

Fatigue
Already feeling tired, be very careful when drinking. Even two or three pints of beer followed by a substantial meal may make you more tired. Even though your alcohol level may not be dangerously high but driving tired is dangerous.

Strain and Stress
Simple impatience sometime turns into irritability with small quantity of alcohol consumption. Just being annoyed may well lead to aggression, frustration and depression. Washing down a problem with alcohol does not help but the problem may crop up again at an untimely moment, for example when you are overtaken by another vehicle.

Illness Drugs
Illness may affect our metabolism so that even small quantities of alcohol may cause serious consequences. The effect of alcohol is far serious on those who are on drugs. It may result in extremely complex and unpredictable reactions of intensified nature.

Smoking and Coffee
Cigarettes and coffee may have a stimulated effect, but also use-up your energy resources. Smoking and drinking alcohol, coffee or tea at the same time delays the routine functions of the liver, as it has to process other substances as well, doctors believe.

Effect on Driving
Besides, alcohol consumption causes serious impairment of visual abilities, difficulty to identify single trees when driving through an avenue, delayed reactions, impaired judgment of peripheral areas, non-notching of traffic signs, impairment of ability to carry out delicate manoeuvres and sight direction changes, serious impairment of ability to adjust speed, extremely faculty manipulations, impaired processing of sensory perception by the brain and above all, tendency to lake higher risks. Many motorists believe that they are safe with an alcohol level of less than 50 or 80 mg/ml. They are wrong—because even at a level of 20 mg/ml symptoms of impaired concentration may be registered. Remember that factors like fatigue, illness, stress and drugs have additional adverse effects and may cause severe concentrations loss even when only small quantities of alcohal are consumed.