Drunk Driving Statistics
New Year’s Eve is the most dangerous time to be driving. Drunk driving is a real problem in many areas of the country, and many people die every year because of it. On a day like New Year’s Eve, too many people do not plan ahead and they get in their vehicle to drive after a long night of celebrating the start of a new year. The result is that on that night, there are unusually more drunk drivers on the road, putting everyone at risk.
How Dangerous Is Drunk Driving?
We know drunk driving is a problem, but do we really know how big of a problem it is? These alcohol addiction and drunk driving statistics from various sources help put the entire problem into perspective. Too many people are killed, or their lives ruined because of this epidemic:
- Accidents related to drunk driving take place every 45 minutes in the US. (1)
- This year, 10,839 people will die in drunk-driving crashes – one every 50 minutes. (2)
- One in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime. (3)
- Beer is the drink of choice in most cases of heavy drinking, binge drinking, drunk driving and underage drinking. (3)
- In 2004, 30 percent of all fatal crashes during the week were alcohol-related, compared to 51 percent on weekends. For all crashes, the alcohol involvement rate was 5 percent during the week and 12 percent during the weekend. (3)
- Drunk driving costs each adult in this country almost $500 per year. (3)
We’ve known the dangers of drunk driving for decades, but the statistics are not getting any better. There are many people who do not learn from past offenses and continue to drink and drive:
- The number of people who continue driving even after their licenses being suspended ranges between 50-75%. (1)
- On an average, the blood alcohol content (BAC) in hardcore drunk drivers found to be 0.15. (1)
- Around 3% of those involved in fatal accidents in 2008 were convicted for ‘driving while intoxicated’ (DWI) within the previous three years. (1)
- An average drunk driver has driven drunk 87 times before first arrest. (2)
The Age of Drunk Drivers
Drivers of all ages are guilty of driving drunk, but a large portion of the drunk driving population is between 18 and 25, making it important for us to get the message out that drunk driving kills:
- In the past 10 years, the deaths of youths (under 21 years) related to drunk driving have decreased by 33%. However, even after this substantial decline, around 4 people from this age group die everyday due to drunk driving. (1)
- Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and one out of three of those is alcohol related. (2)
- Kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related crash. (2)
Decrease in Fatalities
The statistics are looking favorable. In a number of states, incidences of drunk driving have decreased in the past year. In fact, records show that 32 states have seen a decrease in drunk driving fatalities in 2011. Michigan is one of those states. “It’s not one particular thing,” Lynn Sutfin of the state police Office of Highway Safety Planning said. “It’s a combination of things. Some of it is due to a decrease in overall crash fatalities, some of it is due to people making smarter decisions; vehicles have better safety features and the roadways have improved.” (2)
Residents in Maryland are also happy to see a decrease in drunk driving. “There’s been basically a key change in attitude,” said Ragina Averella, a spokeswoman for AAA of the Mid-Atlantic. “I don’t think the public is willing to tolerate drunk driving anymore. They don’t see it as a social issue; they see it as a crime.” (3)
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Working to Save Lives
However, there is still work to be done, because people are still going out and driving after they’ve been drinking. One person dies every 40 minutes because of drunk driving; a total of 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes last year. (1)
Especially at this time of year, there are going to be people drinking and driving. “The number of drunken driving incidents always spikes around holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July,” Sutfin said. “There are more people on the road and people are celebrating.” (2)
Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and local police and sheriff’s departments are cracking down this year on drunk drivers and working to educate more people. “Thanks to the hard work of law enforcement and safety advocates and the incredible commitment of organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, we are making real progress in reducing drunk driving deaths,” said Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator David Strickland. “Our message to drivers is clear: if you decide to drink, find a safe and sober ride home or you will be pulled over.” (1) Checkpoints, DUI task forces, and stiffer penalties are all tools being used by your local law enforcement to keep people safe this year.