How Many Fatalities Are Caused by Drunk Driving?
Alcohol-impaired driving is one of the leading causes of death among motorists. NHTSA reports that over a quarter of all fatal traffic accidents involve an intoxicated driver. It’s estimated that over one million drivers are arrested each year for a DUI. That equates to nearly a dozen deaths each day.
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The average alcohol-impaired fatality rate increased by nearly 21 percent over the past year. This is especially true during the summer months. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a whopping two out of three people who will die in a drunk driving crash will do so during the summer.
Drunk driving is a dangerous activity, and the statistics on alcohol-related fatalities vary by state. The District of Columbia, for instance, has the lowest rate of deaths, at just over one per every 100,000. Meanwhile, New York has a rate of more than one every 30 minutes.
According to the CDC, the number of alcohol-related deaths in the United States each day is more than 30. These numbers are a bit misleading because the actual number of alcohol-related fatalities is far smaller than the number of alcohol-impaired crashes. A lot of these crashes occur in the dark, and a significant percentage of them are in rainy conditions. Fortunately, there are several proven preventive strategies to help reduce the number of drunk-driving fatalities.
Most of the time, a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter is legally allowed to drive. However, if a driver has a BAC of 0.08% or higher, he or she is four times more likely to have a prior conviction. Therefore, it is important to understand the risk factors involved in drinking and driving.
Younger drivers are most at risk of getting into a drunk driving accident. Those 15 and younger make up approximately 2.5% of all drunk driving fatalities. The oldest age groups, those 55 and older, account for 26,000 of the more than 97,000 total alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2018.
The CDC estimates that one person dies from a drunk driving crash every fifty minutes. One of the more dangerous days is the Fourth of July, which sees a surge in drunk driving fatalities. Another peak is Labor Day when more than a thousand people are killed each year. Other deadly days include Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
Among the states with the largest proportions of drunk-driving fatalities, Montana had the highest rate of fatalities, at more than eight percent. Among the states with the lowest rates of alcohol-impaired fatalities, Mississippi had a rate of less than 19 percent.
When calculating the drunk-driving fatality rate, it’s important to keep in mind the location, time of year, and the type of vehicle in which a person was driving when he or she died in an alcohol-related crash. For example, while the majority of alcohol-impaired fatal crashes occur at night, they also happen during daylight hours. Moreover, many of these crashes occur on rural roads, as well as on Interstate highways.