In 2018 alone, alcohol-impaired drivers got behind the wheel of a car about 147 million times. That number represents nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities. In Utah alone, drunk driving was responsible for 12 percent of traffic fatalities. The national average is twenty percent. And those numbers don’t include the number of accidents in which the driver was not present. These statistics are unrounded estimates, so they may be higher or lower than you think.
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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol-impaired drivers caused more than 460,000 car crashes in 2018 and killed more than 10,000 people. The cost of alcohol-related car accidents was $44 billion per year. The number of alcohol-impaired drivers getting behind the wheel increased in some states, including Texas and Florida. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more statistics on alcohol-impaired driving.
CDC data shows that the number of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes has decreased since 2009, with rates decreasing most among young drivers. Despite the decrease, alcohol-impaired drivers still get behind the wheel about 147 million times each year. The CDC has also developed new state-based alcohol-impaired driving fact sheets for states to share with motorists, and they are encouraging them to use them during NHTSA’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over national enforcement mobilization.
Among the drivers involved in fatal crashes, motorcycle riders were the ones with the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers. On the other hand, light truck drivers were at the lowest risk.
Every 45 minutes, a person is killed in an alcohol-impaired driving accident. This statistic is even more alarming when you consider that 28% of all traffic accidents are caused by drunk drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of us will be involved in a drunk driving crash at some point in our lives. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration projects that alcohol-impaired driving will cause 11,654 traffic deaths in 2020.
Drunk driving causes over 10,000 deaths yearly, and nearly half of these crashes occur at night. Despite being responsible for thousands of fatalities, the underlying cause of drunk driving is the lack of physical capacity to react properly and avoid accidents. The brain and other organs don’t function well when the driver is impaired, and they are not able to react promptly.
A study by the National Safety Council reveals that drunk driving deaths are increasing in the United States. Between 2011 and 2018, the number of fatalities caused by alcohol-impaired driving rose from 10,196 to 11,654 – an increase of 14.3%. This figure is the highest since 2009. According to the CDC, drivers with BACs of 0.08 grams per deciliter (BAC) or higher are considered “drunk.”
While drunk driving is a problem on highways year-round, it is particularly deadly during the holidays. In addition to causing a high number of collisions, drunk drivers also result in the deaths of innocent bystanders. Intoxicated drivers caused the deaths of 10,511 people in 2018, accounting for one-third of all collision fatalities.
Of these, alcohol-impaired drivers accounted for 24 percent of fatal crashes on state highways. In contrast, alcohol-impaired drivers accounted for 28% of fatal car crashes on local roads.