How Many Accidents a Year Are Caused by Drunk Driving?
Among the many motor vehicle accidents in the United States, drunk driving is one of the most common causes of fatalities. There are more than 10 million alcohol-related crashes in the United States each year. Those accidents are estimated to result in 74,000 serious injuries and over 30 deaths. This statistic is staggering and is why we must take action to prevent drunk driving from occurring. To combat this problem, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) researches the subject. The NHTSA reports that 10,511 people died in alcohol-related car crashes in 2018.
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While the number of fatalities has decreased over the past several years, it has still increased. Between 2004 and 2018, the number of drunk driving deaths dropped by 18 percent. This has been due in large part to efforts by legislators, activists, and rideshare apps. However, there are still more than 11,000 people killed each year by drunk drivers.
The most commonly affected age group is young adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 120,000 emergency rooms treat young people who are injured by alcohol each year. The CDC also estimates that one drunk driver causes a death every 50 minutes in the U.S. and that nearly one-third of all drunk driving crashes are caused by repeat offenders. In fact, in the last three years, more than 1.7 million people have been arrested for a DUI.
The CDC has found that the chances of being involved in a drunk driving crash are significantly increased on the weekend. Over twice as many drunk drivers were involved in deadly crashes on the weekends than during the week. This is large because drunk drivers have a shorter reaction time, decreased depth perception and coordination, and slowed reaction times, and poor depth perception. In addition, drowsiness can be a factor when driving under the influence.
Another factor that affects the likelihood of being involved in a drunk driving accident is age. The youngest drivers on the road tend to die from alcohol-related crashes at a much lower rate than older people. In 2010, for example, 16- to 24-year-olds accounted for 34 percent of all fatal crashes, while those over 55 accounted for only 14 percent. The same relative distribution was found in 2017.
The age of the driver also matters. In the past four years, drivers aged 21 to 24 were involved in the most alcohol-related fatal crashes. In the previous three years, drivers in this age range were 1.8 times more likely to cause a fatal crash than drivers who were not convicted of a DUI. Moreover, this age group was responsible for a 1.5 times higher percentage of legally impaired drivers in fatal accidents than the national average.
The number of alcohol-related fatal crashes on the road varies from state to state. However, most of them occur in clear and cloudy conditions. A total of eight percent of alcohol-related fatal crashes involved rain or snow. And nearly three percent occurred at night. On average, these crashes are 3.4 times more likely to occur at night than during the day.