Drinking & Driving, The Dangers Of Driving While Under The Influence

The statistics are clear, drinking and driving is very dangerous, both to the person driving under the influence and others, potentially innocent people who might be in the way.

On a site with this focus, we think it’s our responsibility to use a full-page to remind our readers – even warn them – about the extreme dangers of drunk driving. These facts may act as a deterrent, and choosing not to drink and drive is the best way to avoid the personal, financial and legal consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol.

DUI Statistics from the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released the latest compiled statistics on drinking and driving. They are for the year 2009.

Starting with the most critical statistic, in 2009, 10,839 people died in a motor vehicle crash in which the driver responsible for the accident was alcohol-impaired. If that statistic is used as an average, it means that nearly 30 people per day are killed in accidents caused by a driver who was impaired by drinking. Among the fatalities were 181 children aged 0 to 14.

Using self-reporting statistics, the CDC determined that there were 147 million cases of driving under the influence in 2009, with 1.4 million drivers arrested and charged with some level of impaired driving. The statistic points out the fact that if you drive under the influence enough times, you’ll eventually be arrested for DUI and charged.

By age, 35% of the drunk drivers involved in fatal accidents were 21-24 years old. Those 25-34 accounted for 32% of fatalities and those 35-44 were involved in 26% of the fatalities.

If you’re a motorcycle rider, here’s a chilling statistic: 29% of riders killed in a crash had a blood alcohol content level of .08 or higher. For motorcyclist, nearly half of the alcohol-related fatalities were people 40 and over, with the highest percentage of deaths, 44%, occurring to those 40-44.

The bottom line is that if you are driving with a BAC of .08 or higher, you are 11 times more likely to be in a fatal accident. If the BAC is .10, the risk is 29 times greater. It’s a risk that can be avoided by refusing to drive while under the influence.

While the CDC doesn’t collect the statistics, it is estimated that the number of people seriously injured in accidents in which alcohol was a factor is more than 5 times the rate of fatalities. Many of the injuries caused have life-long consequences for the victim such as traumatic brain injuries or paralysis.

The total cost of automobile and motorcycle accidents involving alcohol in 2009 was more than $51 billion.

There’s Good News Too

The good news is that the number of drunk driving fatalities continues to fall. The 1989 number was 22,424 and the 1999 number was 16,572. Driver awareness and more efforts to crack down on driving under the influence have contributed to the decrease.

Harsher penalties in all 50 states have served as a deterrent as well. The legal limit for DUI has been lowered to a BAC of .08 in all states. Fines are harsher, and in many states a first-time conviction can lead to jail time of up to 90 days.

How to Avoid Being a Statistic

Simply choose not to drink and drive. From using a designated driver to calling a cab to limiting your alcohol intake, there is any number of ways to avoid becoming the next drunk driver to be involved in an accident causing death or injury.

Realizing that a moment’s lack of sound judgment can lead to a lifetime of regret and pain might be the motivation you need to find an alternative to getting behind the wheel under the influence and over the limit.

By listing the dangers of drinking and driving, we hope we can help you and those around you stay safe on the roads.