Alcohol-Related Crash Deaths Don’t Share Same Progress as Impaired Driving

This article explores the seeming paradox between evidence that alcohol-impaired driving has been reduced in recent years and the statistics that show the percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal crashes has remained level. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) compared results of national roadside breath-test surveys conducted on Friday and Saturday late nights in 48 states in 1986, 1996, and 2007 with corresponding data on fatal crashes and driver alcohol use from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). The research showed that the percentage of alcohol-impaired nighttime drivers has declined in each roadside survey, while the proportion of fatally injured drivers with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08 percent has remained about a third since 1994 (falling from nearly 50% of that population in 1982). The researchers reviewed their data, carefully controlling for differences in sampling and weighting between the two later surveys – the results remained the same. Indeed, separate studies in Canada echo these results. When researchers controlled for some driver behaviors, including seat belt use, some of the discrepancy was explained. Other explanations include the presence of drugged driving (data is still being gathered for this hypothesis). A final section of the article considers the benefits of intervening and preventing alcohol-impaired drivers from getting on the roads, including the use of alcohol ignition locks, technology-support seatbelt reminders or ignition interlocks, and stepping up law enforcement with sobriety checkpoints.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Figures; Photos; References;
  • Pagination: pp 1-5
  • Serial:

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01523644
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 28 2014 6:13PM