High-Risk Impaired Drivers: Combating a Critical Threat
Alcohol-impaired fatalities accounted for 29 percent of all U.S. motor vehicle deaths in 2018, the lowest percentage since 1982 when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began reporting alcohol data. This was sparked by a 3.6 percent decrease in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities from 2017 to 2018 (National Center for Statistics & Analysis [NCSA], 2019). Thanks to the efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), NHTSA in partnership with State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) and state and local law enforcement, as well as Responsibility.org, Students Against Destructive Decisions, the National Safety Council, and many other organizations, the nation’s roadways are become safer.
Even with this progress, impaired driving remains a major highway safety problem nationwide. In 2018, an average of one alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurred every 50 minutes, which translates to 29 deaths each day. This may seem difficult to comprehend given the stigma associated with drunk driving, but 10,511 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes involving at least one driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 g/dL or higher. Even more startling is that these deaths accounted for nearly one third of all people killed on our nation’s roadways (NCSA, 2019). These, however, are only the alcohol-impaired driving motor vehicle fatalities. There are more than 111 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S adults annually, equating to 300,000 incidents a day (Centers for Disease Control [CDC] and Prevention, 2019).