The number of fatalities resulting from drunk driving varies depending on the state, the year, and even the time of day. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the number of fatalities resulting from drunk driving is a large percentage of all road fatalities in the United States.
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In 2019, 10,142 people died in road crashes involving a driver who was impaired by alcohol. This is more than the total number of deaths resulting from distracted driving (which includes texting, eating, grooming and talking on the phone) over the same period.
When comparing the two, it is important to note that although drunk drivers are more likely to be involved in a car crash than other types of distracted drivers, they still represent a smaller proportion of all roadway fatalities than those involving texting or talking on the phone.
Moreover, a significant number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities involve passengers in the vehicle and not the driver. This is because a drunk driver may not be able to properly assess the situation and take corrective action.
According to NHTSA’s analysis, the majority of alcohol-related traffic fatalities occur when a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. This is why laws have been put into place that make it illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or above.
Another issue that can impact how many fatalities are attributed to drunk driving is the age of the driver. Teenagers are more likely to be killed in an alcohol-related crash than other age groups, especially older drivers.
This is because teens are more likely to have several alcoholic drinks in their systems before driving, and they also tend to be less responsible when it comes to safety. This means that they are more likely to be involved in a drunk driving accident than older drivers who don’t consume as much alcohol before they get behind the wheel.
Regardless of their age, all drivers should be aware of the legal BAC limit in their state and understand the consequences if they exceed it. In addition, there are many factors that can affect a person’s BAC level, including the type of drink they had, the amount of alcohol consumed and how long it took them to consume it.
A BAC of 0.08 percent or higher is the legal limit for driving under the influence in most states. In fact, three States have recently lowered the legal limit to 0.08 percent or lower, and there is strong evidence that these laws help reduce the number of alcohol-related crashes.
For example, a study of 9 studies found that the first 16 States to lower their legal BACs had a 7 percent median decline in alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities. This is an impressive achievement and provides strong evidence that these laws can significantly reduce the number of fatalities resulting from drunk drivers.
In addition to lowering the legal BAC limit, some States have implemented additional enforcement measures to target the most impaired drivers. These include mandatory blood-alcohol screening for all drivers, increasing the penalties for driving with a high BAC and increasing the number of police officers focusing on drinking-related crashes. Additionally, these States have also imposed fines and jail terms for drivers who violate the law.