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2008 Traffic Safety Data for Drunk Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released 2008 traffic safety data concerning drunk driving. For the statistics below, a drunk driver (or alcohol-impaired driver) is defined as someone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher.

In 2008, 11,773 people were killed in drunk driver crashes. These alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities accounted for 32 percent of the total motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States.

Traffic fatalities in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes decreased nearly 10 percent from 13,041 in 2007 to 11,773 in 2008.

Estimates of alcohol-impaired driving are generated using BAC values reported to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and imputed BAC values when they are not reported. Note that the term “alcohol-impaired” does not necessarily indicate that a crash or a fatality was caused by alcohol impairment. The 11,773 fatalities in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes during 2008 represent an average of one alcohol-impaired-driving fatality every 45 minutes.

In 2008, all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico had by law created a threshold making it illegal per se to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher. Of the 11,773 people who died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in 2008, 8,027 (68%) were drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher. The remaining fatalities consisted of 3,054 (26%) motor vehicle occupants and 692 (6%) non-occupants.

In 2008, a total of 1,347 children age 14 and younger were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Of those 1,347 fatalities, 216 (16%) occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. Out of those 216 deaths, 99 (46%) were occupants of a vehicle with a driver who had a BAC level of .08 or higher. Another 34 children age 14 and younger who were killed in traffic crashes in 2008 were pedestrians or cyclists who were struck by drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher.

The rate of drunk driving among drivers involved in fatal crashes was four times higher at night than during the day (36% versus 9%).In 2008, 15 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes during the week were alcohol-impaired, compared to 32 percent on weekends.

2008 Drunk Driver Demographics

For fatal crashes in 2008, the highest percentage of drivers with a BAC level of .08 or higher was for drivers ages 21 to 24 (34%), followed by ages 25 to 34 (31%) and 35 to 44 (25%).

The percentages of drivers involved in fatal crashes with a BAC level of .08 or higher in 2008 were 29 percent for motorcycle riders and 23 percent for both passenger cars and light trucks. The percentage of drivers with BAC levels of .08 or higher in fatal crashes was the lowest for large trucks (2%).

In 2008, 6,316 passenger vehicle drivers who were killed had a BAC of .08 or higher. Out of those 6,316 driver fatalities, 73 percent were unrestrained. Drivers with a BAC of .08 or higher involved in fatal crashes were eight times more likely to have a prior conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) than were drivers with no alcohol (8% and 1%, respectively).

In Georgia, drunk drivers were involved in 28 percent of the state’s total fatalities in 2008.

Have you or a loved one been injured or killed by a drunk driver? If so, you may be entitled to recovery including punitive damages. Contact a attorney as soon as possible. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.

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