December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month

December is National Impaired Drunk and Drugged Driving Month. Most often, driving impaired by drinking a

nd drugs spikes during the holiday season making this time of year a good time to focus on prevention and remember what’s at stake when behind the wheel. Last year, President Obama stated that in 2015,preventable alcohol-related driving fatalities accounted for nearly one third of all traffic accidents. Sadly, in spite of year of campaigning and advertising messages by law enforcement and other anti drunk driving groups, the numbers of individuals affected remain closely the same. Not only in December, drunk, drugged and distracted driving incidents are on the rise in our nation.

Last year, President Obama gave some very sound advice when he offered the following 5 points. He indicated that in order to prevent more drunk, drugged and distracted driving related injuries and fatalities, we must:

  • Pledge not to get behind the wheel after drinking, and not to text while driving. Ever.
  • Call 911 if we suspect a driver is drunk or impaired.
  • Set a good example for teen drivers by modeling safe driving practices and choices.
  • Provide better treatment options for Americans who struggle with alcohol and substance misuse disorders.
  • Give law enforcement the resources and tools they need to address impaired driving

Putting an end to drunk and drugged driving is not easy. It requires personal examination, responsibility, and effort as well as effective public policies. Hopefully, this December, more individuals will be alert and attentive and traffic injuries and fatalities can be fewer.

Drunk Driving

According to the US Department of Transportation, every two hours, 3 people are killed in highway crashes due to drunk driving. The consequences of drunk driving include: arrests, property damage, injuries, and thousands of deaths each year. A recent report published by the Bureau of Transportation indicates that, “an estimated 4 million U.S. adults reported driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in 2010, yielding an estimated 112 million alcohol-impaired driving episodes.”

The study also found some interesting facts relating to the statistics of drunk driving. They found that the rate of drunk driving is quite high and were surprised that there were not more deaths due to drunk driving because of this high rate. They indicate that, “alcohol-related highway crashes accounted for 13,365 deaths in 2010. In addition, alcohol-related highway crashes annually cost Americans an estimated $37 billion…Among major crimes, driving under the influence has one of the highest arrest rates with more than 1.4 million DUI arrests in 2010. In 2010, alcohol was involved in 2,020 (or 47.2 percent) of pedestrian fatalities, 11,087 (or 39.9 percent) of vehicle occupant fatalities, 209 (or 33.8 percent) of pedal cyclist fatalities. Pedestrians are more vulnerable than highway vehicle occupants are. In addition, drivers involved in traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities had less than two-thirds the rate of alcohol involvement as did the pedestrians killed.”

Drunk driving has been shown to be more prevalent among men, with men being involved in close to 81% of the fatal incidents involving drunk driving. Also, recreational vehicles, especially boats, have been examined in their relation to drunk driving and it was found in the recent study that alcohol was involved in 22 percent of fatalities involving boats. In any situation, driving drunk can impair a driver’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time.

Within the workplace, pilots and commercial truck drivers are often tested, as well as many others, to determine their blood-alcohol level. While most reports are positive in this area, indicating a lessening of drunk driving, studies have still brought to light that problems do exist and continued testing is absolutely necessary.


U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Drunk Driving by the Numbers- United States, 2010; available at https://www.rita.dot.gov.

Drunk Driving Statistics

Some statistics in regards to drunk driving as reported by the CDC are:

  • In 2014, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
  • Of the 1,070 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2014, 209 (19%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
  • Of the 209 child passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2014, over half were riding in the vehicle with the alcohol-impaired driver.
  • In 2014, over 1.1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
  • Drugs other than alcohol (legal and illegal) are involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes.

Further, the CDC reports that in the state of Utah, 469 individuals were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver between 2003-12. Also, in Utah, .7% of adults reports driving after drinking too much in the past 30 days while 1.9 % of individuals nationally report driving after drinking too much.   Although many efforts to reduce drunk driving—including putting laws in place such as the minimum drinking age at 21 years, allowing sobriety checkpoints, installing ignition interlocks in vehicles after repeat offenses, media campaigns and other marketing, have helped to decrease drunk driving, much needs to be done to eliminate the problem. Constant education of the younger generation as well as enforcement of breaking laws and ruled needs to continue to be enacted to keep our roads safe.

Annual Self-reported Alcohol-impaired Driving Episodes among U.S. Adults, 1993–2014






Source: CDC. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 1993–2014. http://www.cdc.gov/brfss

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