Most New Year’s Eve revelers know it’s dangerous to drink and drive, but now there’s new evidence that it’s also dangerous to drink and walk.
A trauma surgeon at Loyola University Health System in Maywood released data this month that shows that nearly a third of the people who agreed to have their blood-alcohol content checked after being hit by a car while they were walking had alcohol in their systems.
Nearly a quarter of the 55 pedestrians tested had blood-alcohol concentrations at or above 0.08 percent, the minimum for being considered legally intoxicated as a driver in Illinois, according to Dr. Thomas Esposito, who studied data on patients from July 2009 to June 2010.
“We’re … telling people don’t drink and drive on New Year’s Eve,” Esposito said. “People are trying to do the good thing we’re telling them to do, and guess what? It didn’t turn out any better.”
After seeing anecdotal evidence for decades as a trauma surgeon, Esposito began analyzing drunk-walking statistics, which all trauma centers in Illinois are required to collect. He wasn’t surprised when the statistics showed drinking and walking to be a risk.
“Alcohol is a socially acceptable agent which impairs our ability to think and to make rational judgments,” he said. “And also physically, it impairs our ability to react or to walk or to drive or do anything that requires cycle motor skills and coordination.”
Esposito added that his hospital’s findings mirror national statistics, including a 2005 report from the journal Injury Prevention that said New Year’s Day is more deadly for pedestrians than any other day of the year, with 410 pedestrians killed on Jan. 1 between 1986 and 2002.
It’s a danger that managers at Chicago bars know well as they prepare for one of the busiest nights of the year.
At Timothy O’Toole’s Pub in downtown Chicago, general manager Chris McDonald said his staff is trained to be mindful of not overserving patrons, many of whom have only to walk a block or two to a nearby hotel at the end of the night.
“We happen to fall on an extremely dangerous intersection, and our front door is 10 feet off the street,” McDonald said. “We are conscious of it all the time.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun