A new study by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation found that drunk driving arrests for women have increased 36 percent over the last decade. The impetus for the study was the infamous Diane Schuler crash, when the mother of two—drunk and high–drove her minivan down the wrong side of the highway, killing herself, her daughter, her three nieces and three men in another car.
It’s easy for people to distance themselves from Diane Schuler—she was a drunk. She had problems. She was high. She swilled vodka in secret. I’m nothing like her. I’m just drinking a few civilized glasses of wine with a friend.
Still—the drunk driving statistics speak for themselves, and call attention to the gray areas. Such as: Is it okay to drive home after having a few glasses of wine with dinner? The answer is: It depends. On how big the glass, and how generous the pour. On your body weight, and tolerance. On the timing of the drinks. On how much you ate.
What’s interesting to note is that the study also found that the average female drunk driver is older and better educated than her male counterparts, holds a lower-paying job, and is the primary caregiver to her children.
Maybe those cocktail-hour mom playdates are more popular than we think, even post Diane Schuler, when everyone’s awareness (and paranoia) rose. And maybe we need to talk more openly about the stress caregivers feel, and be more respectful towards what they do.
The study also pinpoints this fact: when it comes to drinking and driving, especially when children are involved, you can never be too careful.