US: Record-Low Level of Drunk-Driving Fatalities image

The U.S. Department of Transportation today released 2009 data that shows drunk-driving deaths fell to a record-low level.

Drunk-driving fatalities – those in crashes involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater – declined by 7.4 percent in 2009 from 2008 and 19 percent since 2000. In 2009, the overall number of highway deaths fell to the lowest level since 1950, while the year also recorded the lowest fatality and injury rates ever.
All of this occurred in a year when estimated vehicle miles traveled increased by 0.2 percent over 2008 levels.

“Seeing these numbers decrease is another step in the right direction, but there is always much more to do,” said Beer Institute President Joe McClain. “Brewers and beer importers are committed to continuing our work with lawmakers, law enforcement, community groups, and others to reduce drunk driving and promote responsible drinking. Numbers like these show that a shared commitment can have a positive effect on making our roads safer.”

Thirty-three states and Puerto Rico saw a decline in the number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2009. All vehicle types experienced a decline in the number of alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal crashes, including a 16 percent drop in motorcycle crashes. 2009 marked the fourth consecutive year of declines in drunk-driving deaths.

Since 1982, the brewing industry and its independent distributors nationwide have spent more than $750,000,000 to support public safety, education and prevention campaigns, including those aimed at combating drunk driving and underage drinking.

“Drunk driving is 100 percent preventable. While we’re pleased to see drunk-driving deaths decrease, along with a similar decline in underage drinking, our efforts to further reduce these numbers will continue and we call upon even more individuals and organizations to join us,” added McClain.

Highlights of the latest Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and related NHTSA data include the following:

  • 33,808 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2009, a 9.7 percent decline from 37,423 deaths reported in 2008, and the lowest number of deaths since 1950 (which had 33,186).
  • An estimated 2.217 million people were injured in 2009, a 5.5 percent decline from 2.346 million in 2008.
  • 30,797 fatal crashes occurred in 2009, down 9.9 percent from 34,172 in 2008.  All crashes (fatal, injury and property damage only) were down by 5.3 percent in 2009 from a year ago.
  • Forty-one states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico all had reductions in fatalities, led by Florida (with 422 fewer fatalities) and Texas (with 405 fewer fatalities).
  • Click here to view the latest 2009 FARS data.