Get the Facts About Drunk Driving Fatalities

There were 16,885 alcohol-related fatalities in 2005 – this number represents 39 percent of all traffic fatalities for that year.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “A motor vehicle crash is considered to be alcohol-related if at least one driver or non-occupant (such as a pedestrian or bicyclist) involved in the crash is determined to have had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 gram per deciliter (g/dL) or higher.

Any fatality that occurs in an alcohol-related crash is considered an “alcohol-related fatality”. The term “alcohol-related” does not indicate that a crash or fatality was caused by the presence of alcohol.” It is important to note that people tend to think that alcohol-related crashes are caused by drunk drivers. But if a sober driver kills an alcohol-impaired pedestrian, it’s also considered an alcohol-related crash. However, the statistics show that most fatal alcohol-related crashes do, in fact, involve drunk drivers and far fewer of these fatalities involve intoxicated pedestrians or cyclists.

Nationwide in 2005, alcohol was present in the systems of 24 percent of the drivers involved in fatal crashes (BAC .01-.07, 4 percent; BAC .08 or greater, 20 percent).

The 16,885 alcohol-related fatalities in 2005 (39% of total traffic fatalities for the year) represent a 5-percent reduction from the 17,732 alcohol related fatalities reported in 1995 (42% of the total).

The 16,885 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes during 2005 represent an average of one alcohol-related fatality every 31 minutes.

Of the 16,885 people who died in alcohol-related crashes in 2005, 14,539 (86%) were killed in crashes where at least one driver or nonoccupant had a BAC of .08 or higher.

The drunk-driving statistics show that traffic fatalities in alcohol-related crashes fell by 0.2 percent, from 16,919 in 2004 to 16,885 in 2005.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that alcohol was involved in 39 percent of fatal crashes and in 7 percent of all crashes in 2005.

An estimated 254,000 people were injured in crashes where the investigating officers reported the presence of alcohol. In 2005, 21 percent of the children age 14 and younger who were killed in motor vehicle crashes were killed in alcohol-related crashes.

In 2005, twenty-one percent of the fatalities among children age 14 and younger occurred in crashes involving alcohol. Of those, more than half were passengers in vehicles with drivers with a BAC levels of .01 or higher.

Forty-eight kids age 14 and younger who were killed in traffic crashes in 2005 were pedestrians or cyclists who were struck by drivers with a BAC .01 or higher.

Things get much worse after dark. The rate of alcohol-related fatal crashes is more than 3 times higher at night as during the day.

By far the largest group of drivers in fatal crashes who had BAC levels of .08 or higher were drivers ages 21 to 24 followed by the 25 to 34 age group.


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