How Many Deaths Occur Because of Drunk Driving?
Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In fact, a drunk driver kills more than one person every 45 minutes, and about one out of every three people who die in a motor vehicle crash is involved in an alcohol-related event. Despite the decrease in deaths over the last two decades, the number of fatalities from alcohol-related crashes continues to rise. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that a total of 11,654 people will die in such accidents in the coming year.
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Alcohol-related traffic crashes are more common during the night and on weekends. People with blood alcohol levels above the legal limit are 7 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers who are sober. There are many factors that contribute to the high rate of alcohol-related crashes. Among them are the types of vehicles involved, the age of the drivers, and the race of the victims.
While the percentage of alcohol-related fatalities varies by gender, age, race, and day of the week, it’s important to remember that all drivers are at risk of being involved in an alcohol-related crash. Moreover, passengers and pedestrians are also at risk. Pedestrians, in particular, are at greater risk of being killed by drunk drivers.
Aside from being a societal issue, drunk driving is an economical concern, as it costs the nation tens of billions of dollars in medical expenses and lost productivity. In addition to its impact on the economy, driving while under the influence leads to higher insurance rates, astronomical medical bills, and property damage. It also carries legal repercussions, including jail time and fines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2016, 10,497 people were killed in drunk driving accidents. This number was a slight increase over the previous year when 10,327 people died in similar accidents. The agency estimates that at least 2 thirds of people will be involved in a drinking driver accident at some point in their lives.
Among the deadliest days for alcohol-related crashes are New Year’s Eve, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, 255 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes. Additionally, a total of 253 people were killed in alcohol-related collisions on the Fourth of July.
Alcohol-related traffic crashes are most common on the weekends, and the risk increases as the sun set. While the number of deaths from such accidents remains relatively low, the risks do increase when icy or poorly-lit roads are involved. During the winter months, the risk of dying in a car crash increases dramatically.
Young adults have seen the biggest decline in the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths over the past 20 years. The number of alcohol-related deaths among 16- to 20-year-olds decreased by 56 percent from 1982 to 2002. Other notable groups of people affected by drunk driving are the African-American population, the Hispanic population, and those who are from Asian and Pacific Islander groups.