During the past decade, the rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities has decreased across the board. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of people dying in drunk driving crashes has dropped from approximately 11,288 to 10,288 in the last decade. There are still thousands of fatal crashes involving impaired drivers each year. However, these numbers are slowly decreasing.
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According to the NHTSA, about one out of three traffic fatalities is due to a drunk driver. This is one reason why drunk driving is illegal in every state in the United States. During the past decade, the number of drivers who were intoxicated on the road has decreased by nearly 70 percent. The average blood alcohol concentration for drivers involved in fatal car crashes is 0.08 grams per deciliter, which is the same level as the legal limit in almost all states.
The most dangerous age group for drivers who were intoxicated is young adults. According to the NHTSA, about a third of all drunk driving accidents involve drivers under the age of 21. For those under the age of 25, the risk of being in a fatal accident is about 1.5 times higher than for older drivers. Those aged 55 or older are the least likely to be in a fatal drunk driving accident.
In 2010, the total number of vehicle traffic deaths was 30,689, and alcohol-related deaths accounted for approximately 30 percent of the total. By 2020, the number of drunk driving fatalities was expected to increase by 9% to 293 deaths. These figures are estimated from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s data. The amount of money that is lost from drunk driving car crashes is approximately $44 billion each year. It is estimated that the cost of a first-offense DUI can be $10,000 in fines and legal fees.
In the most recent years, the most dangerous time of the year for drunk driving accidents is in the summer months. Most of the fatal crashes involving drunk drivers occur during the evening and weekend hours. The rate of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes is 3.4 times greater during the nighttime hours. It is also worth noting that the most common type of alcohol-related crash is not in bad weather conditions. Only eight percent of the alcohol-related crashes involving fatalities occurred in rainy conditions.
The most significant change in alcohol-related traffic fatalities is the decrease in the percentage of crashes that occur during daylight. The percentage of alcohol-related fatal crashes that occur at dawn and dusk was about one percent. By comparison, the percentage of drunk driving fatal crashes that happen during the evening was 27 percent. This is about the same number as the national rate of 29 percent.
In the summer months, the likelihood of being in a deadly drunk driving crash is high. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than half of all fatal crashes involving drunk drivers take place in the summertime.