1997-98 Academy Text Supplement
Victims of Drunk Driving Crashes
- In 1996, 17,126 people were killed in the United States as a result of alcohol-related
traffic crashes -- an average of one every 32 minutes. These deaths constituted
approximately 41 percent of the 41,097 total number of traffic fatalities that occurred in
1996. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (1997). Fatal Accident Reporting System.
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation.)
- The following states had traffic fatalities in which 50 percent or more of all traffic
fatalities were alcohol-related: Alaska, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota,
Tennessee, and Washington. (Ibid.)
- In 1997, 20 percent (184) of children under age five killed in traffic fatalities were killed
in alcohol-related fatalities; 16.7 percent (134) children age 5-9; 23.3 percent (248)
children age 10-14; and 34 percent (1,771) adolescents age 15-19 were killed in alcohol-related fatalities. (Ibid.)
- In addition, in 1997, 55.4 percent (2,890) of persons age 20-24 killed in traffic fatalities
were killed in alcohol-related fatalities; 57.8 percent (2,329) of persons age 25-29; 58.4
percent (2,088) of persons age 30-34; and 55.6 percent (1,959) of persons age 35-39
were killed in alcohol-related fatalities. Over age 40, drunk driving-related fatalities
steadily decrease from 51.3 percent of all traffic fatalities (1,533) for persons age 40-44
to 11.9 percent (461) for persons 75 years and older. (Ibid.)
- In 1995, alcohol-related traffic deaths in the nation rose for the first time in a decade. In
1994, 16,589 individuals were killed in alcohol-related crashes. In 1995, 17,274 people
were killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes -- an increase of 685 impaired driving deaths
over the previous year. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (1996). Fatal Accident
Reporting System. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation.)
- It is estimated that 1,058,990 people were injured in alcohol-related crashes in 1995. On
average, one person is injured as a result of alcohol-impaired driving every 30 seconds.
- During the period 1982 through 1995, approximately 300,274 persons lost their lives in
alcohol-related traffic crashes. (Ibid.)
- In 1995, 8,153 youths under the age of 21 lost their lives in fatal traffic crashes. Of this
number, 20 percent -- or 1,633 traffic fatalities -- were directly related to alcohol impaired
- About two in every five Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some
time in their lives. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (1995). Fatal Accident Reporting
System. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation.)
- The highest number of traffic fatalities to occur in 1995 on a "single" day holiday was on
Saint Patrick's Day. (Ibid.)
- Drunk driving is the nation's most frequently committed violent crime. (Mothers Against
Drunk Driving. (1996). Summary of Statistics: The Impaired Driving Problem. Irving, TX: MADD
- Direct costs of alcohol-related crashes are estimated at $44 billion yearly. It is also
estimated that an additional $67 billion is lost in quality of life due to alcohol-related
crashes. (Miller T. & Blincoe, L. (1994). "Incidence and Cost of Alcohol-involved Crashes," pp. 583-591 . Accident Analysis & Prevention, Vol. 26, No. 5.)
- Every weekday night from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., one in 13 drivers is drunk (BAC of .08 or
more). Between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., on weekend mornings, one in seven drivers is drunk.
(Ibid., 1996 update)
- Traffic crashes are the greatest single cause of death for every age from six through 28.
Almost half of these crashes are alcohol-related. (Ibid.)
Alcohol and Crime
In April 1998, Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson, Office of Justice Programs, U.S.
Department of Justice, convened the first National Symposium on Alcohol Abuse and Crime in
Washington, D.C. In preparation for the symposium, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) within
the Justice Department prepared a comprehensive report entitled Alcohol and Crime: An Analysis
of National Data on the Prevalence of Alcohol Involvement in Crime.
This important new publication contains the following data:
- Based on new analysis of data on alcohol and crime, nearly four in 10 violent
victimizations involve the use of alcohol, and about four in 10 fatal motor vehicle
crashes are alcohol-involved.
- About four in 10 offenders, regardless of whether they are on probation, in local
jail, or in state prison, report that they were using alcohol at the time of the
The report also states that there are many positive indicators that alcohol-related crime is
generally decreasing. For example:
- Rates of arrest for DUI have declined by 24 percent since 1990.
- During the last 10 years, the number of highway fatalities attributable to alcohol-related crashes has dropped by about 7,000 annually, a 29 percent decrease.
(Greenfield, L. (1998, April, publication forthcoming). Alcohol and Crime: An Analysis of National Data on the
Prevalence of Alcohol Involvement in Crime," NCJ-168632. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics,
Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.)
DUI/DWI Arrests and Fatal Crashes
According to new data released in the study Alcohol and Crime, driving while under the influence
of alcohol (DUI), which also includes driving while under the influence of drugs and driving while
intoxicated (DWI), represents the most common reason for arrests by the police. For example:
- In 1996, DUI accounted for one in 10 arrests for all crimes nationwide, an
estimated 1,467,300 arrests.
- That same year, an estimated 10,000 intoxicated drivers were involved in fatal
motor vehicle crashes resulting in 13,400 deaths.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines intoxicated drivers as those with a
blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood or higher, the
legal measure of intoxication in most states. (Ibid.)
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