Did you know that drunk driving causes 11,654 fatalities each year? These tragic statistics are devastating because so many innocent lives are lost because of drunk drivers. Each year, about 121 million people drink and drive, or 300,000 times a day. Yet, only about 1% of these drunk drivers are ever arrested. The average drunk driver will get behind the wheel 80 times before they’re caught. And chances are, you’ll come in contact with a drunk driver at some point in your life.
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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 10,000 people die each year in drunk driving crashes. This figure represents a significant decrease from 2004 to 2018 when there were over 43,000 drunk driving deaths. However, this figure still stands above 30% of the total number of traffic fatalities. Drunk driving crashes are the leading cause of death among drivers younger than 21, motorcyclists, and people with previous DUI convictions.
In addition to fatalities, statistics show that drunk drivers are the most likely to cause an accident. The most commonly reported age group is millennials, with a higher likelihood of drinking and driving than the average person. However, it is important to note that no age group is immune from this risk.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving causes more than 10,000 fatal crashes each year in the United States. During COVID, this percentage increased from 19 percent to 26 percent. While drunk driving is a serious crime, alcohol is not the only factor in crashes. Ten percent of all criminal arrests in the United States are related to drunk driving. Several states reported the highest numbers of DUI arrests in 2018, including North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. But despite the increased number of fatalities and arrests, the states all had fewer alcohol-related traffic fatalities than they did in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) organization, people who are over the legal limit of 0.08% are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash compared to sober drivers. In addition, ten percent of drunk driving-related deaths involve children.
A DUI conviction can be extremely costly. In 2010, Americans drove 25.5 billion miles while their blood alcohol level was 0.05 or higher. According to the study authors, each drunken mile reduced the U.S. economy by $0.80. Alcohol-related crashes also cost the U.S. economy $10 billion and caused 234,000 lost jobs. The only business sector to benefit from the increased drunk driving rates was the healthcare industry.
The economic cost of drunk driving in the United States is estimated at more than $132 billion annually. This amount does not account for the human and emotional costs caused by impaired driving. These accidents lead to serious injuries and even fatalities and are costly for society at large. According to the report, the average death from drunk driving costs about $3.2 million.
The cost of drunk driving affects all aspects of a drinker’s life and the lives of those around them. The direct costs of drinking and driving included $93 billion in lost productivity, $76 billion in property damage, $35 billion in medical expenses, and $28 billion in increased air pollution. The report concluded that drunk driving is the leading cause of these crashes and accounts for almost 18 percent of the total costs.