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Drunk Driving Decline May Be Due to Recession

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Drinking and Driving: A Threat to EveryoneThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] reported on Tuesday that according to a national telephone survey, the number of drunk driving accidents in 2010 was at its lowest level since 1993. Of the 451,000 adults interviewed in the survey, which was conducted in 2010, nearly one in 50 said they had driven drunk last year. About 60% of those interviewed said they had driven drunk only one time.

The CDC estimates there were more than 112 million drunk driving incidents, or more than 300,000 per day. By comparison, there were 161 million such incidents in 2006.

Young men between the ages of 21 to 34 are the most likely to drive drunk. Although they comprise only 11% of the U.S. population, they are responsible for 32% of drunk driving incidents. However, men of all ages far outnumber women when it comes to drunk driving.

Alcohol-impaired drivers, with blood alcohol concentrations of at least 0.08% — the illegal level for drivers in the United States — are involved in about one in three car accident deaths, resulting in nearly 11,000 deaths in 2009. The largest percentage, 85%, of drinking and driving episodes was reported by people who also reported binge drinking. Binge drinking means five or more drinks for men or four or more drinks for women during a short period of time.

As David W. Freeman writes for Associated Press/CBS:

Evidence suggests that people are still drinking as heavily as in years past, so some may simply be finding cheaper ways of imbibing than by going to bars, nightclubs and restaurants.

‘One possibility is that people are drinking at home more and driving less after drinking,’  CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said.

“While the nation has made great strides in reducing drunk driving over the years, it continues to be one of the leading causes of death and injury on America’s roads — claiming a life every 48 minutes,” said David Strickland, the agency’s administrator.

The CDC says there are three proven ways to prevent people from driving while under the influence: Using sobriety checkpoints more frequently and in a lot more places, in which police stop drivers to judge whether they are driving while drunk; keeping and enforcing minimum legal drinking age laws that prohibit selling alcohol to people under age 21; and providing ignition interlocks, which prevent drivers who were convicted of alcohol-impaired driving from operating their vehicles if they have been drinking.

“Interlocks are effective in reducing re-arrest rates from drinking and driving by about two-thirds while the device is on the vehicle,” the CDC reports.

Image by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


3 Responses to “Drunk Driving Decline May Be Due to Recession”


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