Thousands of people die or are injured in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes each year in the United States. In Bullitt County there were 98 collisions involving drinking drivers and 14 collisions involving drivers under influence of drugs in 2007 (KSP Traffic Report, 2007).
The Bullitt County Partners In Prevention Coalition members urges Bullitt County residents to avoid driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs during this holiday season. Don’t turn what should be a happy season into a lifelong bad memory for your family.
Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and non-fatally injure someone every two minutes (NHTSA 2006).
During 2005, 16,885 people in the U.S. died in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes, representing 39% of all traffic-related deaths (NHTSA 2006). In 2005, nearly 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics (Department of Justice 2005). That’s less than one percent of the 159 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year (Quinlan et al. 2005).
Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths. These other drugs are generally used in combination with alcohol (Jones et al. 2003). More than half of the 414 child passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-related crashes during 2005 were riding with the drinking driver (NHTSA 2006).
In 2005, 48 children age 14 years and younger who were killed as pedestrians or pedal-cyclists were struck by impaired drivers (NHTSA 2006).
Male drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes are almost twice as likely as female drivers to be intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater (NHTSA 2006). It is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
At all levels of blood alcohol concentration, the risk of being involved in a crash is greater for young people than for older people (Zador et al. 2000). In 2005, 16% of drivers ages 16 to 20 who died in motor vehicle crashes had been drinking alcohol (NHTSA 2006).
Young men ages 18 to 20 (under the legal drinking age) reported driving while impaired more frequently than any other age group (Shults et al. 2002, Quinlan et al. 2005).
Among motorcycle drivers killed in fatal crashes, 30% have BACs of 0.08% or greater (Paulozzi et al. 2004). Nearly half of the alcohol-impaired motorcyclists killed each year are age 40 or older, and motorcyclists ages 40 to 44 years have the highest percentage of fatalities with BACs of 0.08% or greater (Paulozzi et al. 2004).
Of the 1,946 traffic fatalities among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2005, 21% involved alcohol (NHTSA 2006b). Among drivers involved in fatal crashes, those with BAC levels of 0.08% or higher were nine times more likely to have a prior conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) than were drivers who had not consumed alcohol (NHTSA 2006).
Effective measures to prevent injuries and deaths from impaired driving include aggressively enforcing existing 0.08% BAC laws, minimum legal drinking age laws, zero tolerance laws for drivers younger than 21 years old in all states (Shults et al. 2002, Quinlan et al. 2005); and promptly suspending the driver’s licenses of people who drive while intoxicated (DeJong et al. 1998). Sobriety checkpoints (Elder et al. 2002), health promotion efforts, and multi-faceted community-based approaches to alcohol control and DUI prevention are also proven strategies (Holder et al. 2000, DeJong et al. 1998).