Drunk driving and driving ‘under the influence’ of drugs is one of the most common single causes of injury and death to Americans under the age of 65. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines an alcohol-related crash as one that involves at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher.
Alcohol-related car crashes kill about 10,000 people a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
On average, alcohol-related traffic accidents kill 28 people every day.
In 2013, motor vehicle crashes killed 1,149 children ages 14 and younger. Of those children's fatalities, 17% were caused by a drunk driver. 29 of those children killed by drunk drivers - were struck while on foot or while riding bicycles.
Men are about four times more likely to be arrested for driving while intoxicated than women, though the percentage of women arrested for DUI has been increasing. In 2013, about 15% of fatal incidents involved female drunk drivers.
56% of drivers with measurable blood-alcohol concentrations who were involved in fatal accidents had BACs of .15 or higher.
68% of fatal DUI-related car accidents involved one or more drivers with a BAC of .015 or higher. The most frequently recorded BAC among drivers involved in fatal crashes was 0.17, or more than twice the legal limit.
Generally, younger drivers were more commonly involved in fatal drunk driving crashes than older drivers. According to research from the Insurance Information Institute, citing the NHTSA, the percentage of drivers in fatal crashes who were alcohol impaired was highest for 21 to 24 year old drivers at 33%, followed by 25 to 34 year old drivers at 29%, and 35 to 44 year old drivers at 24% (2013 data).
The percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal crashes was 20% for 45 to 54 year olds, 17% for 16 to 20 year olds, 14% for 55 to 64 year olds, 8% for 65 to 74 year olds and 5% for drivers over the age of 74.
The percentage of crash fatalities that can be traced to the effects of drunk driving has declined over the years, from 41% in 1985 to 31% today. This percentage has remained roughly constant since 1995, always between 30 and 32%, according to the Insurance Information Institute and the NHTSA. However, the overall number of traffic fatalities per year has declined from 44,599 in 1999 to 32,719 in 2013.
About 1.5 million Americans are arrested for driving while impaired each year. About two thirds of them are first-time offenders, according to the NHTSA.
The estimated economic cost of alcohol-related vehicle crashes, including the effects of lost productivity, workplace losses, legal costs, medical expenses, EMS services, insurance administration costs, traffic congestion and property damage, is about $49.8 billion, according to the NHTSA.
This data doesn’t, however, include the extremely severe quality of life costs associated with the often-crippling injuries resulting from drunk driving accidents. When these costs are considered, NHTSA analysts estimate the overall economic cost of the consequences of drunk driving is $206.9 billion.
About 1,700 college students between ages 18 and 24 are killed every year from alcohol-related injuries, including drunk driving, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol is a factor in another 599,000 injuries.
Number of states that do sobriety checkpoint programs: 38, plus the District of Columbia. The other 12 states use “saturation patrolling.” (Source: MADD Report to the Nation 2015)
Number of interlocks in use: 318,714. Up more than 3-fold since 2006. (Source: MADD Report to the Nation 2015)
States that have enacted child-endangerment laws, which result in extra criminal charges if a driver is intoxicated with a child in the car: 46, plus the District of Columbia.
For further reading, see MADD Report to the Nation 2015, the NHTSA Traffic Safety Data 2013 booklet and the Insurance Information Institute page on alcohol-related traffic incidents.
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