Among the millions of drivers who self-report driving under the influence each year, a large proportion of them is alcohol-impaired at some time during the driving day. Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities are a significant source of traffic-related fatalities in the U.S., accounting for about 28% of all traffic-related deaths. Fortunately, efforts are being made to reduce alcohol consumption and driving. These efforts involve a variety of activities, including sobriety checkpoints targeted to specific days and times of the week. However, the time of day during which these checkpoints are conducted varies a great deal. Moreover, these checkpoints are not limited to the nighttime hours, but also include the morning hours.
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The number of drunk drivers driving during the weekdays is considerably higher than the number of drunk drivers driving during the weekend and holiday periods. Nearly one in seven drivers is drunk and driving during these three periods. While the proportion of drivers who are impaired increases during the morning hours, the nighttime hours are a particularly dangerous time for drivers who have been drinking.
Among drivers who were convicted of driving under the influence in the past three years, nearly one in five of those convicted were repeat offenders. These repeat offenders are more likely to cause a drunk driving crash. In addition, a third of all drunk driving crashes involve alcohol-impaired drivers. These repeat offenders are disproportionately male and female, and they are more likely to be African-American and Hispanic.
The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers who were convicted of driving under the Influence was significantly higher for males than for females. Furthermore, males between the ages of 21 and 29 had the highest proportion of alcohol-impaired drivers. Among alcohol-impaired drivers, males were four times more likely than females to drive drunk.
During the past decade, the number of fatal drunk driving crashes has decreased significantly. Over this time, the number of fatal crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers has decreased by 20 percent. However, the number of alcohol-impaired fatal crashes has decreased more significantly among drivers under the age of 21. The rate of drunk driving fatalities among drivers under the age of 21 has decreased by 71% since 1991.
The most dangerous time for drunk drivers is between midnight and 3 a.m. This is the period during which bars and restaurants are open and drunk driving is most likely to occur. In addition, most alcohol-impaired drivers are traveling home after their night of drinking. However, a significant number of alcohol-impaired drivers are traveling on highways or interstates. The rate of drunk driving crashes on highways is more than twice that of those crashes on other roads.
During the nighttime hours, the percentage of drivers who are impaired is four times higher than during the daytime hours. Nighttime alcohol-impaired driving fatalities are three times more likely to occur than on weekdays. On the weekends, the percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers is twice as high as on weekdays.