DUI: Most Recent Statistics
Driving while under the influence of alcohol is an incredibly irresponsible thing to do, but 36 years since the tragic accident that led to the formation of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) too many Americans still choose to get behind the wheels of their cars after drinking. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s December 2016 data shows that 10,265 people were involved in fatal crashes involving at least one driver with a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher in 2015. That number is a 3.2 percent increase from the 2014 data, and it represents a human cost. One hundred eighty-one children, age fourteen and younger, were killed in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver, and more than half were in vehicles being driven by an impaired driver. The owner of a phoenix auto repair shop told us at the time of the interview he had repaired six cars that were damaged in different accidents that were alcohol related. He said that in the last two years he has repaired more cars because of alcohol related crashes than in the whole thirty-five years he has owned his shop.
Nearly one hundred children died in the United States of America in 2015 because their own parent or guardian decided to drive after drinking.
The human costs of motor vehicle crashes weigh the heaviest, but there are financial costs as well, of course. The NHTSA considered a variety of economic factors, including loss of productivity and emergency medical services, to estimate that crashes involving alcohol impaired drivers cost the United States $44 billion in 2010. When it includes factors of quality-of-life for survivors, the NHTSA estimates that the full cost of alcohol-impaired-driving crashes for 2010 was actually $201.1 billion. The year 2010 is the most recent year for which cost data is available, but we know that more people died as a result of alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in 2015, which suggests that the cost for 2015 was even higher.
Not all of the most recent data is bad news, though, at least not when seen in the right light. Hidden in the macabre percentages that represent human lives affected by alcohol-impaired-driving crashes are some statistics we can use to stay safer while on the road. In 2015, you were three and a half more times likely to be involved in an alcohol-impaired-driving crash if you were on the road at night instead of during the day. You were nearly twice as likely to be involved in that kind of crash on a weekend than a weekday. The lessons are clear: keep nighttime and weekend driving to a minimum, and don’t drive on weekend nights unless you have no other choice.
If you have to drive at night or on weekends, know that you are at increased risk of being involved in an alcohol-impaired-driving crash. Drive accordingly.
On a positive note, the United States has been experiencing an overall trend of decreasing cases of fatal crashes involving an alcohol impaired driver since 2006. It is true that 2015 saw an increase in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes from 2014, but the total number for 2015 was still 24 percent lower than 2006’s data. Public awareness and targeted enforcement campaigns appear to be having some positive effect.
Continue to remind yourself and everyone you know that it is not okay to drink and drive. Drive defensively.
Stay safe on the roads you travel.