Decades ago, drunk driving was a scourge that people didn’t realize was common. Thanks to advocacy groups running advertisements and even educating students in high school, awareness about the risks of drunk driving has become nearly universal.
When looking at traffic trends, you might think that increased awareness about the risks of driving after drinking would translate to substantially lower numbers of drunk driving crashes. Do the statistics on alcohol-related collisions support the idea that drunk driving is less common now thanks to broader awareness?
Drunk driving is still responsible for roughly a third of all traffic deaths
There is some noteworthy lag between when crashed occurred and when analysts can properly review the data. Statistics currently available from federal agencies look at crash data from 2019 and before. About 32% of all traffic fatalities on average every year involved a driver with too much alcohol in their bloodstream.
Surprisingly, that number is a substantial improvement. According to an analysis of drunk driving deaths since 1982, fatal drunk driving crashes have gone down by 52%. Overall traffic deaths dropped by 18% over those same years. Apparently, the focus on young drivers has been particularly successful, with drunk driving deaths involving drivers under the age of 21 dropping by a staggering 83%.
In other words, while you still have significant risk caused by drunk drivers, the number of fatal crashes they cause each year has gone down noticeably over the last four decades.
Who is most likely to drive drunk?
Some people claim that police officers target specific people for drunk driving enforcement, and they may not be wrong in making that assertion. Given that men represent the vast majority of drunk driving arrests, police officers are likely going to scrutinize male drivers more carefully, especially during the late-night and early-morning hours when a significant number of drunk driving crashes take place.
Drunk driving is not just unsafe, it is clearly illegal. Thankfully, the law does allow both for the prosecution of drunk drivers and for the people they hurt to file civil lawsuits against them for their losses. Knowing your rights and the most significant crash risks on the road can help you protect yourself from other people’s irresponsible actions.