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  Car Crash Stats: There were nearly 6,420,000 auto accidents in the United States in 2005. The financial cost of these crashes is more than 230 Billion dollars. 2.9 million people were injured and 42,636 people killed. About 115 people die every day in vehicle crashes in the United States -- one death every 13 minutes.
 
About 780 people die in vehicular crashed every week in our country, an average of one every 13 minutes. (NHTSA)
 
Vehicular crashes are the number one killer of Americans between the ages of 6 and 29. (NHTSA)
 
Traffic crashes are the major cause of death for children under the age of 15, with 21.4% of those killed having been a passenger with an intoxicated parent or other care taker. (NHTSA)
 
Alcohol-related crashes cost society $44 billion in 1993, including $6 billion in medical costs. An additional $90 billion was lost in pain, suffering and lost quality of life in these cases. (miller and blincoe, 1994)
 
We need to realize that for each person killed, thousands of parents, siblings, spouses, colleagues and friends find their lives forever changed by what has  happened.
 
Some studies show that about 23% of family members of someone murdered or killed by a drunk driver develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at some point after the death. Very few differences were found between the two victim populations (murder, drunk driving death) destroying the myth that crashes are mere "accidents" that should not result in as much trauma for family members as murders or other homicides. Often the fact that many drunk drivers received only minimal criminal justice sanctions compared to those who kill with a gun or knife, adds to the difficulty of the families' grief and mourning recovery.
 
Lack of Anticipation:
 
Vehicular crashes are among the most unanticipated of deaths. The offender is not usually known to the victim, not does he/she selectively choose the victim. Most murders are committed by someone the victim knew, so while few families anticipate murder as an end result, they may have been experiencing anxieties related to assault, stalking, etc. that serve as something of a psychological preparation for the death. Families of children who die of gang-related murder don't expect them to be killed but they too, have had some degree of anticipatory stress because of their worries about their children. 
 
Most vehicular crashes happen on a normal day, perhaps after saying "goodbye" to a family member who is fully expecting that loved one to return home at a designated time. Instead, several hours later after the expected time of arrival has come and gone, a police officer knocks on the door, bringing the family the worst news of their lifetime. Or even worse the unexpected message comes by phone. Having no psychological preparation is different from having some preparation.
 
Inappropriate death notification can leave lasting scars on family members and can become the subject matter of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, including nightmares, flashbacks and an exaggerated startle response to the sound of door bells or ringing phones. A death notification by phone to someone home alone frequently results in a traumatized person who needs emotional support and sometimes physical assistance. 
 
Counselors should ask, "How did you find out about the death?" because survivors need to tell of the notification experience time and time again. These discussions usually lead to emotional reactions of deep regret about lack of opportunity for closure. Frequent laments include, "I didn't get to say good-bye," "I love you," or "I'm sorry." 
 
TIME:
 
Most research about anticipatory grieving and death following long illness or injury tells us that the expected recovery period ranges from two to four years, based on numerous variables. Research about sudden, violent death tells us to expect a four to seven year recovery period, acknowledging that recovery is never complete. (Lehman and Workman, 1987). Many find the pain of mourning increases during the 2nd and 3rd years, probably since the first year is often spent psychologically numbed to the reality of what happened. 
 
A time of the greatest need is often around the first-year anniversary, when reality was setting in but support was nonexistent. Caregivers should keep a monthly tickler file of death dates, especially if the death was sudden or violent and remember survivors at anniversary time with a call, e-mail, text, note or other remembrance. 
 
Many survivors of drunk driving crashes found that even 5 years later they were still significantly more stressed than the non-victims on measures of well being, somatization, obsessive-compulsion disorders, depression, anxiety, hostility, self-esteem and post-traumatic stress disorder. They were more likely to report poorer health, especially high blood pressure. They were also more likely than non-victims to be taking sleep medication or anti-anxiety drugs. 
 
What Helps?
 
Many studies have shown that victims of sudden violent death need:
  • To talk about what happened time and time again as different aspects of their victimization surfaces;
  • To have all their personal reactions accepted and believed;
  • To be with others who have been through it;
What Doesn't Help?
 
  • To be told that they need medication (Most will know themselves if their symptoms are frightening to them);
  • be told not to think about it;
  • be referred to support groups prematurely (If they have carefully selected a particular counselor, clergy person or other caregiver as their confidante, they may resent being passes off to a group. Later the caregiver may ask if they would find it helpful to be with others who have had a similar experience. (Although some will want to and attend groups almost immediately following a loss, most will want to wait).
Great Supports:
 
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers: (MADD)  www.MADD.org     Great resource that is not just for moms!
The Compassionate Friends (for families who have lost a child or sibling at any age, any cause) www.compassionatefriends.org
 Parents of Murdered Children (POMC); not just for parents    www.pomc.com
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Information from the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving Website: www.madd.org)
 

Statistics

This year, 10,839 people will die in drunk-driving crashes - one every 50 minutes.

(NHTSA, 2009) Full cite: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2008 Traffic Safety Annual Assessment  Highlights DOT 811 172. Washington DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2009. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811172.pdf

High school students who use alcohol or other substances are five times more likely to drop out of school or believe good grades are not important.

(NIDA, 2008) Full cite: National Institute on Drug Abuse. Volume 1: Secondary School Students, National Survey Results on Drug Use from The Monitoring the Future Study, 1975-1997. Rockville, MD: Department of Health and Human Services, 1998.

MADD serves a victim or survivor of drunk driving every 10 minutes.

(MADD data, 2009)

An average drunk driver has driven drunk 87 times before first arrest.

(Zador, 1997) Full cite: Zador, Paul, Sheila Krawchuk, and B. Moore, ?Drinking and Driving Trips, Stops by Police, and Arrests: Analysis of the 1995 National Survey of Drinking and Driving Attitudes and Behavior,? Rockville, MD: Estat, Inc, 1997.

Drunk driving costs each adult in this country almost $500 per year.

(Taylor, et al 2002) Full cite: Taylor, Dexter; Miller, Ted; and Cox, Kenya. ?Impaired Driving in the United States Cost Fact Sheets. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2002. http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/alcohol/impaired_driving_pg2/US.htm

One in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime.

(NHTSA, 2001; NHTSA FARS data) Full cite: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. ?The Traffic Stop and You: Improving Communications between Citizens and Law Enforcement. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, March 2001,

One in three 8th graders drinks alcohol.

MADD has saved 27,000 young lives through passage of groundbreaking public health laws.

(NHTSA, 2009) Full cite: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. ?Traffic Safety Facts 2008: Young Drivers?. DOT 811 169. Washington DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2009. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811169.PDF

One in three will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime.

(NHTSA, 2001; NHTSA FARS data) Full cite: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Traffic Stop and You: Improving Communications between Citizens and Law Enforcement. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, March 2001, DOT HS 809 212. http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/enforce/Traffic%20Stop%20&%20You%20HTML/TrafficStop_index.htm.

Every minute, one person is injured from an alcohol-related crash.

(Blincoe, et al, 2002; Miller et al, 1998) Full cites: Blincoe, Lawrence, et al. The Economic Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes 2000.Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2002. http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/economic/EconImpact2000/ and Miller, Ted, Diane Lestina, and Rebecca Spicer. Highway Crash Costs in the United States by Driver Age, Blood Alcohol Level, Victim Age, and Restraint Use, Accident Analysis and Prevention, 30, no. 2 (1998): 137-150.

50 to 75% of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license.

(Peck, et al, 1995 and Beck et al, 1999) Full Cites: Peck, R.C., Wilson, R. J., and Sutton, L. 1995. Driver license strategies for controlling the persistent DUI offender, Strategies for Dealing with the intent Drinking Driver. Transportation Research Board, Transportation Research Circular No. 437. Washington, D.C. National Research Council: 48-49. and Beck, KH, et al. Effects of Ignition Interlock License Restrictions on Drivers with Multiple Alcohol Offenses: A Randomized Trial in Maryland. American Journal of Public Health, 89 vol. 11 (1999): 1696-1700.

One in five teens binge drink. Only 1 in 100 parents believes his or her teen binge drinks.

(Institute of Medicine, 2003) Full cite: Institute of Medicine National Research Council of the National Academies. Bonnie, Richard J. and Mary Ellen O?Connell, eds. Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.

Teen alcohol use kills about 6000 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined.

(Hingson and Kenkel, 2003) Full cite: Hingson, Ralph and D. Kenkel. ?Social and Health Consequences of Underage Drinking. In press. As quoted in Institute of Medicine National Research Council of the National Academies. Bonnie, Richard J. and Mary Ellen O?Connell, eds. Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and one out of three of those is alcohol related.

(NHTSA, 2009) Full cite: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. ?Traffic Safety Facts 2008: Young Drivers?. DOT 811 169. Washington DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2009. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811169.PDF

Kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related crash.

(Hingson, 2001) Full cite: Hingson, Ralph, et al. ?Age of Drinking Onset, Driving After Drinking, and Involvement in Alcohol-Related Motor Vehicle Crashes.? DOT HS 809 188. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, January 2001.

Every minute, one person is injured from an alcohol-related crash.

(Blincoe, et al, 2002; Miller et al, 1998) Full cites: Blincoe, Lawrence, et al. ?The Economic Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes 2000.? Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2002. http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/economic/EconImpact2000/ and Miller, Ted, Diane Lestina, and Rebecca Spicer. ?Highway Crash Costs in the United States by Driver Age, Blood Alcohol Level, Victim Age, and Restraint Use,? Accident Analysis and Prevention, 30, no. 2 (1998): 137-150.

Since 1980 MADD has nearly saved 300,000 lives ...and counting.

(Fell, 1995 and NHTSA FARS data) Full cite: Fell J.C. (1995), "What's New in Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety in the U.S." National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Proceedings of 13th Conference, International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety, ICADTS, NHMRC Road Accident Research Unit, University of Adelaide, Australia, C.N. Kloeden and A. J. McLean (Editors), T95, pp 329-335

 

Helpful Books:

 

Living After Losing a Child: Beyond Tears by Ellen Mitchell, 2009  (The book was written by bereaved mothers who have all lost children who were young adults. There is also a chapter at the end written by the bereaved siblings).

When There Are No Words: Finding your way to cope with loss and grief by Charlie Walton

A Grief Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Grief by Jerry Sittser  

Living With Grief After Sudden Loss: Suicide, Homicide, Accident, Heart Attack, Stroke,  by the Hospice Foundation of America

 

 

 

 

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