How Many Fatalities From Drunk Driving Are Going Down?
Alcohol-impaired driving is a serious problem that can take many lives. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that about one death occurs every 45 minutes in the United States due to a drunk driver. That’s a lot of fatalities, and it’s important to understand what’s happening with this problem.
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Crash Participants and Vehicles
The percentage of crashes that involve alcohol varies depending on the type of crash, the role of the person killed in the crash, and the age of the drivers involved. In 2002, 41 percent of traffic deaths involved a driver who had been drinking. This figure remained relatively steady over the past 20 years, but it declined slightly in the past 3 years.
Males are more likely to be involved in alcohol-related traffic accidents than females. In fact, 73 percent of drivers who died in an alcohol-related crash were male.
Young adults have experienced a greater proportional decline in fatalities from drunk driving than older adult groups. This is due in part to zero tolerance laws enacted in most States. These laws make it illegal for any driver under the age of 21 to drink and drive.
Despite the decline, alcohol-impaired driving still remains an epidemic in our country. If you are a victim of an accident caused by someone who was drinking and driving, it’s crucial to seek legal help for your situation.
Proportional Reductions in Driver Fatalities
There has been a significant reduction in the number of drunk-driving-related traffic deaths over the past two decades. This decrease has been attributed to a variety of factors, including fewer arrests for drinking and driving and more effective enforcement strategies.
These strategies include increased education, stepped up enforcement, and strong policies to prevent drinking and driving. Some of these strategies include the use of breath testing devices, mandatory drug and alcohol evaluations for drivers, and promoting the message that it is dangerous to drive after having been drinking.
The first eight States that adopted these policies saw a reduction in the number of drivers who died from a drunk-driving crash. These State policies, along with other factors, have contributed to the overall decline in alcohol-related traffic fatalities over the past two decades.
Risk of a Fatal Crash with a Driver with a BAC over 0.08 g/dL
There was an 11-to-1 ratio between the chance of a fatal crash and a driver’s BAC over 0.08 g/dL, regardless of gender or age. The risk was 52 times higher for male drivers ages 16 to 20 with a BAC of 0.08 g/dL, and nearly doubled with each 0.02-percent increase in a driver’s BAC.
Drivers with a BAC over 0.08 gram per deciliter (g/dL) are more likely to have prior convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The percentage of drivers with a prior DUI, DWI, or OWI conviction was 4 times greater for drivers who had a BAC over 0.08 g/dL than for those with no alcohol in their system.