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Impaired Driving

Note: The following statistics should not be attributed to the U.S. Department of Labor, but rather their respective footnoted sources listed at the bottom of the page.

Alcohol Traffic Safety Facts

Despite being totally preventable, impaired driving crashes figure prominently in overall traffic crash data and produce devastating consequences on America’s roads. Consider the following:

  • In 2007, an estimated 12,998 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes 1
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  • Traffic fatalities in alcohol-related crashes fell by 3.7 percent from the 13,491 fatalities in 2006.2
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  • An estimated 254,000 people suffered injuries in crashes in which police reported that alcohol was present—an average of one person injured approximately every two minutes.3
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  • Over 1.4 million drivers were arrested in 2004 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.4
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  • About 22 percent of the driving age public has driven a motor vehicle within two hours of consuming alcoholic beverages in the past year—about the same as in 1995. Males are more than twice as likely to have driven in this condition as are females.5
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  • Overall, about 11 percent of the drinking public over age 16 can be classified as problem drinkers—individuals who consumed five or more drinks on four or more days in a month, or eight or more drinks on at least one day in a typical month.6
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  • The rate of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes is more than three times higher at night (59 percent) than during the day (18 percent). For all crashes, the rate of alcohol involvement is five times as high at night (16 percent) than during the day (3 percent).7
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  • In 2005, 52 percent of all fatal crashes that occurred on weekends were alcohol-related, compared to 30 percent during the week.8
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  • In 2007, 25-to 34-year olds accounted for 23 percent of all alcohol-impaired driving fatalities as did 45- to 64-year olds. Similarly, 21- to 24-year-olds accounted for 16 percent of all alcohol-impaired driving fatalities.9
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  • In 2007, the percentage of drivers with BAC levels .08 or higher in fatal crashes was highest for motorcycle drivers or riders (67 percent) and about 17 percent were passengers riding with alcohol-impaired drivers/motorcycle riders.10
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  • In 2005, 23 percent of the young drivers aged 15 to 20 who were killed in crashes had a BAC of 0.08 or higher.11
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  • In 2005, the most frequently recorded BAC level among drinking drivers involved in fatal crashes was 0.17.12
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  • About one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol (DWI/DUI) have a previous DWI conviction.13
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  • Drivers with prior DWI convictions are over-represented in fatal crashes and have a greater relative risk of involvement in a fatal crash.14
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  • Alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost the public more than $50 billion in 2000, and 81 percent of these costs occurred in crashes where a driver or non-occupant had a BAC of .08 or higher.15
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  • In 2005, 21 percent of the children age 14 and younger who were killed in crashes were killed in alcohol-related crashes.16
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  • Nearly 97 percent of Americans view drunk driving by others as a major threat to the community.17
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  • The top factors to discourage those from drinking and driving include: realizing they could kill or injure others and/or themselves; a jail sentence; possibility of losing their license; paying substantial fines and penalties involving the car; and fear of losing a job.18
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1National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2008). Traffic Safety Facts: 2007 Traffic Safety Annual Assessment – Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
2Ibid.
3National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2006). Traffic Safety Facts 2005, Alcohol. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
4 Ibid.
5National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2003). Traffic Tech, National Survey of Drinking and Driving Attitudes and Behaviors, 2001. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
6 Ibid.
7National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2006). Traffic Safety Facts 2005, Alcohol. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
8 Ibid.
9National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2008). Traffic Safety Facts: 2007 Traffic Safety Annual Assessment – Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
10 Ibid.
11National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2006). Traffic Safety Facts 2005, Young Drivers. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
12National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2006). Traffic Safety Facts 2005, Alcohol. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
13National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (January 2006). Traffic Safety Facts, Laws: Repeat Intoxicated Driver Laws. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
14National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (January 2008). Traffic Safety Facts. Laws: Repeat Intoxicated Driver Laws. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
15 Ibid.
16National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2006). Traffic Safety Facts 2005, Alcohol. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
17National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (October 2002). Saturation Patrols and Sobriety Checkpoints Guide: A How-to Guide for Planning and Publicizing Impaired Driving Enforcement Efforts. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
182005 MADD and Nationwide Insurance Survey Conducted by Gallup. Irving, TX: MADD.