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All Press Releases for January 31, 2014 »
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Drunk driving declines but fatal drunk driving accidents hold steady

Research shows that the number of people drinking and driving has declined since the early 1980s, yet alcohol-related auto accident fatalities have remained fairly constant.
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    January 31, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- In the early 1980s public safety officials launched the first intensive public safety campaign aimed at stopping people from driving under the influence of alcohol. Public opinion regarding the acceptability of drinking and driving has shifted since then, so now in 2014 many people view drinking and driving as a public safety threat. Research shows that the number of people drinking and driving has declined during this time, yet alcohol-related auto accident fatalities have remained fairly constant.

Drunk driving statistics

Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a study on drinking and driving rates compared to auto accident fatalities. They compared the results of late-night roadside breath-tests conducted on Friday and Saturday nights in 48 states in the U.S. in 1986, 1996 and 2007 with the statistics about alcohol-related fatal auto accidents in the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System for each of those years. They found that the number of drivers in the roadside samples with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 or higher declined in each successive breath-test sample. However, the number of alcohol-related auto accident fatalities involving a driver with a B.A.C. of 0.08 or higher has held at about one-third of all auto accident fatalities since 1994, having fallen from about one-half in 1982.

Despite fewer drivers under the influence of alcohol, a disturbing amount of people still die each year in drunk driving auto accidents. In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, FARS data shows 10,322 people died in auto accidents with a legally intoxicated driver.

Reasons for the paradox

Researchers working on the study struggled to explain why alcohol-related auto accidents are still so high, despite the decline in the number of people who drink and drive. They suggested that the behavior of those who drink and drive may be a factor in the number of fatalities. Data from FARS revealed that intoxicated drivers are less likely to wear seat belts, more likely to have been speeding and more likely to have prior licenses suspensions and moving violations. These behaviors do not account for the entire discrepancy, however, and researchers are continuing to look for other contributing factors.

Preventing auto accident fatalities

In an effort to reduce the number of fatalities from drunk driving auto accidents, safety officials are looking to technology to prevent drivers from driving when they have had too much to drink. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has partnered with vehicle manufacturers to develop a Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, which would measure a driver's B.A.C. prior to allowing a vehicle to start. The DADSS would operate in a similar way that current ignition interlock systems work, but NHTSA officials are looking to make the design of the DADSS unobtrusive so that it does not inconvenience sober drivers.

Mass-marketing of DADSS will not occur until well into the future, however, and people are continuing to make the choice to drink and drive today. As accident statistics show, these drivers often end up causing accidents -- and those accidents are often deadly. Drivers who choose to drink and drive wreak havoc on other's lives and need to be held accountable for what they do. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, seek the assistance of a skilled auto accident attorney who understands the specific legal issues that arise in drunk driving accident cases to help you obtain justice.

Article provided by Kinnard, Clayton & Beveridge
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