NHTSA Updates Alcohol-Impaired Driving Statistics

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has updated its alcohol-impaired driving estimate statistics with the latest figures available, which are from 2013.
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The numbers as revealed by the Traffic Safety Facts: State Alcohol Impaired Driving Estimates are largely consistent with what we have seen in years’ past, which is that alcohol-impaired driving accounts for nearly one-third of all fatal traffic accidents. The percentage of impaired drivers in fatal crashes in South Carolina was much higher than the national average, while those in North Carolina were slightly lower.

Although the NHTSA released a preliminary report on 2013 drunk driving statistics in December, this new report reflects updated state-level information that gives us a more accurate picture of what we know is a very serious problem.

For example, the percentage of North Carolina preliminary report indicated 29 percent of traffic accident deaths in which a driver whose blood-alcohol concentration was 0.08 or higher was 29 percent. This is lower than the national average of 31 percent, but it was also a 2 percent increase from 2004.

What this tells us is that while our DUI enforcement efforts may be effective in keeping our impaired driving deaths lower than the national average, we still saw an increase, and that is alarming.

In South Carolina, the situation is worse. The figures show us that in 2004, the percentage of fatal crashes in which a driver had a BAC of 0.08 or higher was 35 percent. In 2013, that figure spiked to 44 percent.

This was not only far in excess of the national average of 31 percent, it the No. 1 highest rate in the nation.

It was also far and above anywhere else in Region IV (which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina). The second-highest state in the region was Alabama, and that state recorded a figure of 31 percent.

An earlier report released in December reveals a full 50 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes in South Carolina had a blood-alcohol concentration that exceeded 0.00 – meaning they got behind the wheel after consuming some alcohol, even if the amount didn’t cross the legal threshold.

This reveals a serious problem, especially because these statistics reflect percentages that are so much higher than the national average. Our Greenville drunk driving injury lawyers believe we must dedicate the resources to determine the root source of this issue and work to reduce its impact.

Particularly with regard to half of all drivers in fatal South Carolina crashes having consumed some amount of alcohol, there may need to be a campaign to underscore the fact that “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving,” and emphasizing the ways in which even small amounts of alcohol can impact one’s ability to safely drive.

Nationally, there were nearly 33,000 motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2013, and of those, 10,076 were people killed in alcohol-impaired crashes where at least one driver had a BAC of 0.08 or higher.

Despite the fact that DUI involving injury or death is a serious felony, people seem undeterred, and repeat offenders are common. More must be done to tackle this widespread – and growing – problem.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
State Alcohol-Impaired Driving Estimates, August 2015, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

More Blog Entries:
NSC Report: Traffic Deaths On The Road to Rise, Aug. 25, 2015, South Carolina Personal Injury Attorney Blog

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