Drunken driving—sometimes called America’s socially accepted form of murder—has become a national epidemic. Every hour of every day about three Americans on average are killed by drunken drivers, adding up to an incredible 250,000 over the past decade.
A drunken driver is usually defined as one with a 0.10 blood alcohol content or roughly three beers, glasses of wine or shots of whisky drunk within two hours. Heavy drinking used to be an acceptable part of the American manly image and judges were not severe in most courts, but the deaths caused by drunken driving have recently caused so many well-publicized tragedies, especially involving young children, that public opinion is no longer so tolerant.
Twenty states have raised the legal drinking age to 21, changing a trend in the 1960s to reduce it to 18. After New Jersey lowered it to 18, the number of people killed by 18-20 year-old drivers more than doubled, so the state recently upped it back to 21.
Reformers, however, fear that raising the drinking age will have little effect unless accompanied by educational programs to help young people to develop “responsible attitudes” about drinking and teach them to resist peer pressure to drink.
Tough new laws have led to increased arrests and tests and, in many areas already, to a marked decline in fatalities. Some states are also punishing bars for serving customers too many drinks. A bar or pub in Massachusetts was fined for serving six or more brandies to a customer who was “obviously drunk” and later drove off the road, killing a nine-year-old boy.
As the fatalities continue to occur daily in every state, some Americans are even beginning to speak well of the 13 years of national prohibition of alcohol that began in 1919, what President Hoover called the “noble experiment”. They forget that legal prohibition didn’t stop drinking, but encouraged political corruption and organized crime. As with the booming drug trade generally, there is no easy solution.
1. Why has public opinion regarding drunken driving changed?
(A) Increasing accidents attract so much publicity.
(B) The news media have highlighted the problem.
(C) Judges are giving more severe sentences.
(D) Drivers are more conscious of their image.
2. The word “well-publicized” (para. 2) is closest in meaning to ______.
(B) recently circulated
(C) generally accepted
3. Statistics issued in New Jersey indicated that ______.
(A) many drivers were not of legal age
(B) young drivers were often bad drivers
(C) the legal drinking age was to be raised
(D) the level of drinking increased in the 1960s
4. Laws recently introduced in some states have ______.
(A) reduced the number of convictions
(B) resulted in fewer deaths on the road
(C) prevented bars from serving drunken customers
(D) specified the amount drivers can drink
5. According to the passage, why is the problem of drinking and driving difficult to solve?
(A) Alcohol is easily obtained.
(B) Drinking is linked to the drug trade.
(C) Legal prohibition has already failed.
(D) Legislation alone is not sufficient.
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