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Leading Cause of Death on U.S. Roads is Drunk Driving

In a recent report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed 37,133 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes on our nation’s roads in 2017, a 1.8 percent decrease from 2016. The data also revealed that drunk driving accounted for 29 percent of those deaths, which means drunk driving remains the leading cause of death on our nation’s roads.

Drunk Driving Statistics

According to the report, 2017 marked the lowest percentage of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities since the NHTSA started recording data in 1982. However, 10,874 drunk driving fatalities is a high number — one that must still be reduced. Let’s look at the data:

  • Passenger car alcohol-impaired driving fatalities decreased by 2.6 percent from 2016.
  • Vans, utility trucks, pickup, and large truck alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased from 2016.
  • 26 states and Puerto Rico saw declines in the number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities.
  • 21 states saw increases in the number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities from 2016.
  • Florida saw the largest decrease, with 66 fewer lives lost in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities.
  • Michigan saw the largest increase, with 67 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities.

2018 Drunk Driving Laws Enacted

Last year, we saw a few states pass laws to help increase driver safety on our roads. Both Illinois and Iowa passed laws requiring all offenders to have a device installed as part of their drunk driving conviction. Now 32 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws for all drunk driving offenders. Organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) continue to lobby for all 50 states to pass more strict drunk driving laws, including IID requirements for all offenders.

Utah became the state with the strictest DUI law in the country. While every other state has set its blood alcohol concentration limit to .08, Utah lowered its BAC level to .05 effective December 30, 2018. In addition, the law now states that anyone who drives a vehicle in a negligent manner and causes the death of another will have committed a criminal homicide — this is considered a felony conviction.

Progress is being made as this is the first time in several years drunk driving fatalities have decreased, yet it’s not enough. In 2006, MADD launched its Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, which calls for high-visibility law enforcement, with sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols; laws requiring ignition interlocks for all drunk drivers; and development of advanced vehicle technology. Yet many states have not added new drunk driving laws or have considered weakening existing laws. For more information about MADD, visit their website.


Categories: Drunk Driving, Legislation

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