Fatal Drunk Driving Crashes

distracted driver drink pixlr

While the percentage of fatal drunk driving crashes has fallen over the last 10 years, more than one out of every four traffic deaths in the U.S. is still caused by a drunk driver.

In August the federal government released its most recent findings on drunk driving (“State Alcohol-Impaired-Driving Estimates”). It’s a bit of good news and bad news.

The report covers 2019, the most recent year with finalized drunk-driving data, but it also examines this dangerous driving habit over the previous 10 years.

In 2019 more than 10,000 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes.  Drunk-driving deaths accounted for 28% of all motor vehicle deaths that year. In 2010 it was 31% nationwide.  So the percentage fell a bit, but there were about 3,000 fewer deaths from car and truck crashes overall in 2010.

The actual number of people killed in drunk-driving crashes was almost identical in both years: 10,136 in 2010 and 10,142 in 2019.

Fatal Missouri Drunk Driving Crashes

The trends are similar for Missouri drunk-driving crashes. Of the 880 Missouri driving deaths in 2019, 27% came from drunk-driving accidents.  In 2010, the percentage of drunk-driving deaths compared to those from all the state’s fatal motor vehicle accidents was 31%.

The number of people killed in Missouri in drunk-driving crashes also fell in those 10 years, from 257 in 2010 to 235 in 2019.

These Missouri and nationwide numbers are determined by including all those killed in crashes with at least one driver found with a blood-alcohol concentration of at least .08 g/dl.  That’s the legal threshold for driving drunk.

The more alcohol one consumes the worse they handle tasks that require quick reactions and constant focus, such as driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at the legal threshold of drunk driving, the typical effects include:

·         Poor muscle coordination and reaction time

·         Impaired judgment and reasoning

·         Worse vision and hearing

And related to driving specifically, NHTSA says the predictable effects of being legally drunk include:

·         Impaired perception

·         Loss of speed control

·         Diminished ability to process information

·         Lack of concentration

Truck Drivers Under the Influence of Alcohol

These diminished physical and mental capabilities in drunk drivers are an obvious rationale for why the legal threshold for drunk driving for commercial truck drivers is half of what it is for other drivers – a BAC of .04.

A truck driver under the influence of alcohol while driving a tractor-trailer weighing as much as 80,000 lbs. who fails to brake for stopped traffic or swerves unexpectedly into another lane, for example, can be responsible for the deaths of multiple drivers and passengers.

In January 2020 a federal registry of commercial truck drivers with failed drug or alcohol tests was established for the first time.  Since then the majority of violations have been for drugs, but through July 2021 the federal government reported over 2,000 commercial truck driver violations for alcohol.

Drunk drivers remain a real threat in Missouri and across the United States, as do speeding, distracted and other careless drivers.

If you were seriously injured or had a loved one die in a crash caused by another driver, a personal injury lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation and pursue just compensation from those responsible on your behalf.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog September 22, 2021


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