2004 Drunk Driving Statistics

Click here for drunk driving statistics for 20032002; 2001; 2000.

Below are some statistics on drinking and driving in the US.

Drunk driving is no accident.

There were 16,694 alcohol-related fatalities in 2004 – 39 percent of the total traffic fatalities for the year.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), "A motor vehicle crash is considered to be alcohol-related if at least one driver or non-occupant (such as a pedestrian or pedalcyclist) involved in the crash is determined to have had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 gram per deciliter (g/dL) or higher. Thus, any fatality that occurs in an alcohol-related crash is considered an alcohol-related fatality. The term "alcohol-related" does not indicate that a crash or fatality was caused by the presence of alcohol."

Note the last paragraph, and in particular, the last sentence. This would seem to make the statistics below a little misleading since we tend to think that alcohol-related crashes are caused by drunk drivers. But if a sober driver kills an alcohol-impaired pedestrian, it's still considered an alcohol-related crash.  Does this invalidate the drunk driving statistics below? No. The statistics reveal that most fatal alcohol-related crashes do indeed involve drunk drivers and far fewer (12%) of these fatalities involve intoxicated pedestrians or "pedalcyclists".

Of the 16,694 people who died in alcohol-related crashes in 2004, 14,409 (86%) were killed in crashes where at least one driver or nonoccupant had a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher. The legal limit for BAC is currently .08 in all states in the US.

Traffic fatalities in alcohol-related crashes fell by 2.4 percent, from 17,105 in 2003 to 16,694 in 2004. Although this is definitely an improvement, it is still a lot of dead fellow citizens. To put this in perspective, it is equivalent to a fully loaded Boeing 747 crashing, and leaving no survivors, every nine days all year long – over 39 airplanes in total.

The 16,694 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes during 2004 represent an average of one alcohol-related fatality every 31 minutes.

NHTSA estimates that alcohol was involved in 39 percent of fatal crashes and in 7 percent of all crashes in 2004.

In 2004, 21 percent of the children age 14 and younger who were killed in motor vehicle crashes were killed in alcohol-related crashes.

An estimated 248,000 people were injured in crashes where police reported that alcohol was present — an average of one person injured approximately every 2 minutes.

The rate of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes is more than 3 times higher at night than during the day (60% vs. 18%).

The highest percentage of drivers in fatal crashes who had BAC levels of .08 or higher was for males and drivers ages 21 to 24.

The percentages of drivers with BAC levels of .08 or higher in fatal crashes in 2004 were 27% for motorcycle operators, 22% for passenger cars, and 21% for light trucks. The percentage of drivers with BAC levels .08 or higher in fatal crashes was the lowest for large trucks (1%).

In 2004, 85 percent (11,791) of the 13,952 drivers with BAC of .01 or higher who were involved in fatal crashes had BAC levels at or above .08, and 51 percent (7,084) had BAC levels at or above .16. The most frequently recorded BAC level among drinking drivers involved in fatal crashes was .18.

Alcohol related deaths in the US since 1982:

 
Total fatalities
Alcohol related fatalities
Year
Number
Number
Percent
1982
43,945
26,173
60
1983
42,589
24,635
58
1984
44,257
24,762
56
1985
43,825
23,167
53
1986
46,087
25,017
54
1987
46,390
24,094
52
1988
47,087
23,833
51
1989
45,582
22,424
49
1990
44,599
22,587
51
1991
41,508
20,159
49
1992
39,250
18,290
47
1993
40,150
17,908
45
1994
40,716
17,308
43
1995
41,817
17,732
42
1996
42,065
17,749
42
1997
42,013
16,711
40
1998
41,501
16,673
40
1999
41,717
16,572
40
2000
41,945
17,380
41
2001
42,196
17,400
41
2002
43,005
17,524
41
2003
42,643
17,013
40
2004
42,518
16,694
39

Drinking and driving fatalities by state in 2004 (ranked by highest number of alcohol related deaths):

State
Total Fatalities

Alcohol-Related Fatalities

Number
Percent
California
4,120
1,643
40
Texas
3,583
1,642
46
Florida
3,244
1,222
38
Pennsylvania
1,490
614
41
Illinois
1,356
604
45
New York
1,493
587
39
North Carolina
1,557
553
35
Georgia
1,634
525
32
Tennessee
1,288
519
40
Ohio
1,286
492
38
South Carolina
1,046
464
44
Missouri
1,130
449
40
Alabama
1,154
442
38
Arizona
1,150
435
38
Michigan
1,159
430
37
Louisiana
904
414
46
Virginia
925
359
39
Wisconsin
792
358
45
Mississippi
900
341
38
Kentucky
964
308
32
Indiana
947
299
32
Maryland
643
286
45
Oklahoma
774
278
36
Arkansas
704
276
39
New Jersey
731
270
37
Colorado
665
259
39
Washington
563
246
44
New Mexico
521
211
40
Massachusetts
476
203
43
Oregon
456
199
44
Minnesota
567
184
32
Nevada
395
152
39
Kansas
461
148
32
West Virginia
411
136
33
Connecticut
291
127
44
Iowa
390
110
28
Montana
229
106
46
Idaho
260
93
36
Nebraska
254
92
36
South Dakota
197
86
44
Utah
296
72
24
Maine
194
70
36
Hawaii
142
65
46
New Hampshire
171
59
35
Wyoming
164
59
36
Delaware
134
51
38
Rhode Island
83
42
50
North Dakota
100
39
39
Vermont
98
32
32
Alaska
101
31
31
Dist of Columbia
43
18
41
National
42,636
16,694
39
Puerto Rico
494
248
50

 

Imagine if more people had personal breathalyzers to test themselves before getting behind the wheel.