Last year a student from my high school was killed in a drunk driving accident. As shocking as the death was for many students, people still continued to drive while intoxicated. This year two of my close friends received DUI's and numerous people I have encountered have also been convicted of Driving Under the Influence. Working at a local bar, it is very seldom that I see a person choosing to remain sober because they "have to drive", and I began to wonder which gender was more likely to drive after consuming alcohol.
I hypothesize that men are more likely to drive after consuming alcoholic beverages than women. I have decided this for several reasons, the primary one being that when on a date, usually the male drives.
I began my research on the Internet, and found several very useful sights. MADD (mothers against drunk driving) had some fairly new statistics regarding alcohol consumption and driving. I also visited the National Clearinghouse for Drugs and Alcohol, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. While reviewing some statistics regarding fatal accidents related to alcohol, I noticed that California had a very high number of deaths-second only to Texas (this number did not reflect the percentage of the population-with this in mind, Nevada and Texas had the largest percents). With this in mind I investigated the current laws regarding alcohol consumption and driving.
Currently, the law in California declares a person to be legally intoxicated if their blood alcohol content is .08% or greater (this law of course is different for minors). The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services define a standard drink as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
I decided to Survey 50 people, 25 men and 25 women. Although laws prohibit people under 21 from consuming alcohol, I chose to survey people 16 years and older simply because I know that many minors do drink and drive. In order to get a more representative sample, I decided not to survey at CSUSM but at the mall where my sample population would consist of people other than students. Before handing people the survey I asked them two simple questions: Are you a licensed driver? and Do you consume alcoholic beverages? To those that answered yes to both questions, I passed out the following survey:
1. Male or Female
3. When you drink, on average, how many alcoholic beverages do you consume?
Please use the following scale:
1 drink= 1.5 oz. Of 80-proof liquor
1 drink= 1 beer
1 drink= 5 oz. of wine
4. How many beverages must you consume to feel 'drunk?'
4. Do you drive after consuming alcoholic beverages (please be honest)?
5. Would you drive after consuming: 1 drink?
More than 5 drinks?
6. Have you ever been convicted of DUI?
Using the information from my surveys, I have come to the conclusion that men are more likely to drive after consuming alcoholic beverages. Of the males surveyed, 84% said they would drive after consuming alcoholic beverages where 72% of females said they
would. The gap between these amounts changed significantly when the subjects responded to question 5. After two drinks, the percentage of men who said they would drive remained the same, the percentage of females declined-68% said they would drive. The number of men who said they would drive after consuming three alcoholic beverages declined by 4% where the number of females who said they would drive decreased to 64%. It is here that my data changed significantly. The number of men who said they would drive after consuming four alcoholic beverages decreased by 20% and the number of females who said they would drive after that many decreased by 32%. Finally, 12% of men said they would drive after 5 or more drinks where only 4% of women stated that they would drive.
Of the four men who stated that they would not drive after consuming alcoholic beverages, 2 had previously received DUI's while only 1 of the 7 women who said they would not drive after consuming alcoholic beverages had received a DUI. The following pages are my results in chart format.
Viewing my results, I realize that I have not taken into account the different physiological effects of alcohol. Women become intoxicated after drinking smaller quantities of alcohol than are needed to produce intoxication in men. This can be explained by the fact that women have lower total body water content than men of comparable size. After alcohol is consumed, it diffuses uniformly into all body water, both inside and outside cells. Because of their smaller quantity of body water, women achieve higher concentration of alcohol in their blood than men after drinking equivalent amounts of alcohol.
As one person performing research, there are many aspects that I have neglected. If I had the means with which to do an extensive study, I would not rely on data from self-report, as many people may understate the amount of alcohol consumed for social acceptance. Instead, I would carefully monitor the actual intake of each subject over an extended period of time.
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