Statistics on Accidents Caused by Drunk Drivers in the US

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Despite constant warnings and preventative education, drunk driving continues to plague the nation. Everyone knows they shouldn’t get behind the wheel when they’ve had too much to drink. Yet, roughly 29 people die each day from drunken car accidents. The following are statistics on these accidents that everyone should know in order to raise awareness to this prevailing problem. 

Understanding the Scope

Alcohol-impaired driving accounted for 10,497 deaths in 2016 alone, or 28% of all traffic-related fatalities in the United States. Out of that number, 1,233 were children. Some as old as infants, others up to 14. Another 214 were injured.

Another statistic from 2016 shows that over one-million drivers were arrested for being under the influence. That number, however, only comprises 1% of the 111 million self-reported cases where a driver may have crashed. 

Risk Factors

The true risk is blood alcohol concentration. Anything higher than 0.08% is considered over the limit across the country. After reaching that marker, drivers have a much higher chance of being involved in an accident. 

Younger persons are more likely to hit that threshold before those who are older. Those between the ages of 25 and 34 comprised three in ten or 27% of fatal crashes in 2016. The 21 to 24 age bracket made up 26%, while the 35 to 44 bracket were responsible for 22%. 

Motorcyclists are also more likely to be involved in fatal accidents involving alcohol. Of all crashes involving a death and motorcycle, 25% included a BAC of 0.08% or higher. Those between 35 and 39 are the most likely be included in that statistic, often needing an attorney for a wrongful death case when passengers are involved. 

Understanding BAC

Many people remain unaware of just how much alcohol affects their body and mind. This is especially true as more alcohol is consumed, impairing the ability to make sound decisions. Here are some things you can expect at various blood alcohol levels:

0.02% or about 2 drinks – slight loss of judgement, divided attention, decline in visual function 

0.05% or about 3 drinks – impaired judgement, lowered alertness, less inhibition, reduced coordination, difficulty steering, reduced response time

0.08% or about 4 drinks – poor muscle coordination, short-term memory loss, reduced information processing, impaired perception, judgement and self-control impairment

0.10% or about 5 drinks – deterioration of reaction time, slurred speech, poor coordination, slowed thinking, inability to maintain lane position, improper braking

0.15% or about 7 drinks – vomiting, loss of balance, substantial impairment, loss of attention, major loss in muscle control, impaired visual and auditory processing 


States handle prevention methods in various ways, but the most common are the 0.08% BAC and minimum drinking age laws. Ignition interlocks, sobriety checkpoints, and awareness programs in schools are also common. Some states also increase taxes on alcohol sales. 

Still, the problem persists. It’s up to the individual to make the right decision. Make sure you always use a designated driver, never let your drunken friends get behind the wheel, and take advantage of taxis or rideshare services when available. Finally, encourage guests to sleep over if they are impaired for house parties.

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