Drunk Driving Statistics

The Zebra
June 27, 2019

2019 drunk driving statistics

Drinking and driving is a behavior that endangers the lives and increases the insurance costs of drivers across the United States. 

The Zebra set out to explore the current state of American attitudes and behaviors toward drunk driving by conducting a small online survey of American drivers to determine their perceptions and self-reported habits. The below data, sourced from publicly available resources and The Zebra's small survey, begins to paint a picture of US drivers' thoughts on drinking and driving.

  • 20.1% of responders aged 35 to 44 know someone who has been killed in a drunk-driving accident
  • 26.6% of female respondents aged 18 to 24 admitted to driving while buzzed.
  • 37.4% of college-age respondents believed they were fit to drive after 3 or 4 drinks.
  • 50.2% of 18 to 24 years olds said use rideshare (Lyft, Uber, etc.) every time they go out drinking.
  • 55.9% of respondents — all ages — don't use rideshare at all.
  • 45% of female respondents call a friend or significant other for a ride home after drinking.
  • 29.8% of male respondents use a rideshare vehicle to get home after drinking.

drunk driving_limit of drinks

Data support the concern that while many recognize and are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, it is still an ongoing issue among American drivers. Research showed a notable distinction between female and male drivers' approaches to the issue. 

 

Drunk driving statistics by year (2006 - 2017)

 The following data points are taken from from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, the National Safety Council, and the National Institute of Health.

  • From 2006-2016, the NHTSA reported more than 10,000 deaths from drunk driving collisions.
  • In 2007, more than 56,000 fatal crashes occurred on American roads. Of these fatal crashes, 22% of the drivers were drunk.
  • Nearly 33,000 fatalities occurred in motor vehicle crashes in 2010 alone. The total cost of societal harm caused by these incidents was $836 billion. 5.26% of this cost came via fatalities caused by intoxicated drivers.
  • 2012 alone saw 121 million instances of drunk driving by 4.2 million US adults. 
  • In 2016, Montana and North Dakota reported the highest the alcohol-impaired-driving fatality percentages at 45%. Mississippi and Utah reported the lowest alcohol-impaired-driving fatality percentages at 19%. 
  • In 2017, nearly 2,000 people died in alcohol-related accidents in which the driver was less-impaired than the established blood-alcohol content limit. 
  • The good news: between 1991 and 2017, the rate of drunk driving fatalities per 100,000 people decreased by nearly 50%. For drivers 21 and younger, that rate decreased by 68%.

 

Drunk driving by age

Please refer to the NHTSA's Traffic Safety Facts for additional data concerning the data below:

  • Vehicular collisions are the leading cause of death for minors.
  • In 2013, 42% of drivers in fatal drunk driving crashes were aged 16 to 24.
  • In 2013, almost 120,000 emergency rooms treated young people with injuries related to alcohol and driving.
  • Four years later, in 2017, 16 to 24 year olds comprised 42% of the drivers killed in alcohol-related crashes.
  • During 2017, the highest percentage of drunk drivers were 21- to 24-year-olds, at 27%, followed by 25- to 34-year-olds.

 

Drunk driving and college students

Mother Against Drunk Driving is one of the active civillian organizations against underage drinking and driving. For more details around the following data, visit madd.org:

  • Almost 2,000 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from unintentional alcohol-related injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.
  • College-aged drivers are involved in almost 19% of drunk driving accidents.
  • According to several reports, an estimated 18% of drivers under the age of 21 have admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • While male college students were more likely to engage in risky behavior such as driving and drinking, both male and female college students were likely to do so to some degree.
  • Almost 50% of underage students with access to a car admitted to driving after having anything to drink. One in five admitted to driving while intoxicated.

Persons Killed In Total And Alcohol-Impaired Crashes

Drunk driving vs. gun violence statistics

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Gun violence kills 30,000 people each year.
  • For every one person who dies from a gunshot wound, two others are wounded or maimed. 
  • Every year, approximately 100,000 Americans are involved in a gun-related accident.
  • 2018 saw more than 18,000 gun-related accidents that led to injury. The same year, 4.5 million people were injured in car collisions.

 

DUI & DWI facts

The following data is taken from academic sources, including The Alcohol Pharmacology Education Partnership and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

  • The legal, federal amount (or limit) BAC for driving safely is 0.08%. BAC stands for blood-alcohol content (or concentration) and that is a percentage of how much alcohol is in a driver's bloodstream. 
  • While police have a tool to measure BAC (a breathalyzer), the formula for calculating BAC is as follows:

[Alcohol consumed in grams / (Body weight in grams x r)] x 100.

R = gender constant, r = 0.55 for females and 0.68 for males.

  • While there is a federal standard for BAC, there is no standard definition for charging a driver with a DUI or DWI. 
  • Certain states define a DWI as Driving While Intoxicated. Under those laws, there may not be a difference between a DUI and DWI charge.
  • A driver can be charged with a DUI or DWI after failing a field sobriety test, even with a BAC below the state's legal limit. 
  • If a driver is under 21, some states may pursue DUI charges at BAC levels of 0.01%. 

 

Drunk driving prevention

  • Since Congress raised the drinking age to 21 in 1984, NHTSA estimates that minimum-drinking-age laws have saved 31,959 lives. 
  • According to NHTSA, for every one arrest made for drunk driving or DUI/DWI, there is an estimated 500 to 2,000 drunk driving incidents go unpenalized.
  • 50% of teens age 21 or younger who died in car accidents were passengers, not drivers. 
  • The NIAAA reported that in 2000, 24% of American eighth-graders reported having used alcohol in the past month, and 9% of them reported having been drunk in the past month.
  • Several studies have found that young teens who are more likely to be without adult supervision after school have significantly higher rates of drug and alcohol use than do adolescents receiving adult supervision.

 

How does a drunk driving ticket impact car insurance rates?

Getting a DUI is one of the more costly mistakes a driver can make. After comparing millions of rates, The Zebra found a DUI violation can increase rates by 73.9% — more than $1,000 dollars a month in insurance premiums. 

Moving forward, whenever you search for car insurance, you may need to file an SR-22, an additional certification that states your insurance policy meets your state’s minimum car insurance requirements. It’s normally a requirement to have a suspension lifted from your license due to a violation (like a DUI or DWI). 

But that's just your insurance. You can lose your license as well as face jail time and legal fees. 

Car Insurance Premiums by Violations- DUI vs Texting and Driving

Copyright © 2019 InsuranceZebra, Inc. All rights reserved. For inquiries regarding this content, please contact our team at statistics@thezebra.com.

 

Methodology

In June of 2019, The Zebra surveyed 202 people from across the United States in a representative survey with closed-answer questions. Overall, there were 10 questions asked with a 70% completion rate. All ages and all genders were encouraged to participate. The survey was sent in the English language via the Google Surveys Publishers Network.

 

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