Beebe and O'Neil

Fatalities from drunk driving accidents

Since it is estimated that 4 million American adults drove under the influence of alcohol one or more times in 2010, it is likely that Connecticut highways will experience multiple alcohol-impaired driving episodes this year. According to data released by the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics, three Americans are killed in alcohol-related highway accidents every two hours. In 2010, highway crashes that involved alcohol accounted for 13,365 deaths in the United States. In addition to thousands of fatalities each year, drunk driving results in arrests, damages to property and injuries to people.

In 2010, almost 40 percent, or 11,087, of the deaths of vehicle occupants occurred in an alcohol-related accident. The U.S. Coast Guard reported more than 150 recreational boating fatalities in which alcohol use was a contributing factor. Boaters, just like drivers, are impaired in judgment, vision, balance and reaction times after consuming alcohol.

Drunk driving accidents often involve more than just automobiles and related vehicles. Pedestrians near or on roadways can be involved in collision, and the Department of Transportation figures identify 2,020 pedestrian fatalities in 2010 that involved alcohol. This figure accounts for nearly 50 percent of all pedestrian deaths by accident. Bicyclists' fatalities were 209, or about 34 percent, caused by alcohol-related accidents in 2010.

The Department of Transportation's Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance monitors transportation workers, randomly testing for the presence of drug or alcohol in drivers. The number of drivers found to have alcohol in their bloodstream at the time of the random test has declined and accounted for almost none of the nearly 1,800 fatal occupational injuries due to transportation accidents in 2009.

Source: United States Department of Transportation, "Drunk Driving by the Numbers", Matthew Chambers, Mindy Liu, and Chip Moore, October 10, 2014

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