Prevalence of Impaired Driving

  • In 2014, there were 9,967 fatalities in crashes involving a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher, accounting for 31 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year.1
  • The 9,967 fatalities in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2014 represent an average of one alcohol-impaired driving fatality every 53 minutes.1
  • In 2014, a total of 1,067 children age 14 and younger were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Of those, 1,067 fatalities, 209 (19%) occurred in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.1

High Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)

  • Of the 9,967 people who died in alcohol-impaired crashes in 2014, 6,931 (64%) were drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher. The remaining fatalities consisted of 2,752 (27%) motor vehicle occupants and 824 (8%) non-occupants.1
  • Another 30 children age 14 and younger who were killed in traffic crashes in 2014 were pedestrians or pedalcyclists who were struck by drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher.1
  • In 2014, 84 percent (9,461) of the 11,231 drivers with a BAC of .01 or higher who were involved in fatal crashes had BAC levels at or above .08, and 56 percent (6,324) had BAC levels at or above .15. The most frequently recorded BAC level among drinking drivers in fatal crashes were tied at .14 and .16.1

Hardcore Impaired Drivers

  • In 2014, the percentage of drivers in fatal crashes with BAC levels .08 or greater was highest for drivers aged 21 to 24 (30%), followed by ages 25 to 34 (29%) and 35 to 44 (24%).1
  • Drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher involved in fatal crashes were seven times more likely to have a prior conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) than were drivers with no alcohol.1
  • About one-quarter of all drivers arrested or convicted of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol are repeat offenders.2
  • The risk of a driver who has one or more DWI convictions becoming involved in a fatal crash is about 1.4 times the risk of a driver with no DWI conviction.3

DUI Arrests

  • Over 1.12 million drivers were arrested in 2014 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.4
  • Only 17 percent of impaired drivers who are injured in crashes are charged and convicted. Eleven percent are charged and not convicted and 72 percent are never charged.5
  • A 2015 AAA poll measuring the Traffic Safety Culture of Americans, found that almost 80% strongly supported requiring drivers who have been convicted of DWI at least once, to use equipment that tests them for alcohol, i.e. an ignition interlock device. Also, 66% of the respondents in the poll felt that impaired driving is a serious threat to their personal safety.6

Social Costs of Impaired Driving

Alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost the public an estimated $114.3 billion in 2000, including $51.1 billion in monetary costs and an estimated $63.2 billion in quality of life losses. People other than the drinking driver paid $71.6 billion of the alcohol-related crash bill, which is 63 percent of the total cost of these crashes.7

Drugged Driving

  • According to the latest National Roadside Survey from NHTSA in 2013-2014, one in five weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter medication. More than one in eight tested positive for illicit drugs.8
  • The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that an estimated 9.9 million people ages 12 and older reported to driving under the influence of illicit drugs at least once during the prior year. The rate was the highest among young adults ages 18-25 (1%).9
  • Among those 12 and older, males (14.1%) were nearly twice as likely as females (7.9%) to drive under the influence of an illicit drug or alcohol in the past year.9

Works Cited

  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts 2014: Alcohol-Impaired Driving. DOT 812 231. Washington DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, December 2015. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812231
  2. DWI Recidivism in the United States: An Examination of State-Level Driver Data and the Effect of Look-Back Periods on Recidivism Prevalence.” DOT HS 811 991. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, March 2014. http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nti/pdf/811991-DWI_Recidivism_in_USA-tsf-rn.pdf
  3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Repeat DWI Offenders Are an Elusive Target. Washington, DC: National Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic Tech No. 217, March 2000. http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/outreach/traftech/pub/tt217.html
  4. Arrest data: Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Crime in the United States: 2014” https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/crime-in-the-u.s.-2014/tables/table-29
  5. The Economic Impact of Motor Vehicles 2000. May 2002 presentation.
  6. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. 2015 Traffic Safety Culture Index. Washington DC: AAA Foundation, January 2015. https://www.aaafoundation.org/2015-traffic-safety-culture-index
  7. Taylor, Dexter; Miller, Ted; and Cox, Kenya. Impaired Driving in the United States Cost Fact Sheets. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2002.
  8. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Results of the 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers. DOT812 118. Washington DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2015.
  9. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings. September 2014. http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHresultsPDFWHTML2013/Web/NSDUHresults2013.pdf