According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), Alcohol impairment is a factor in nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities. In 2017, 10,874 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver, 29 percent of all fatalities.
New Hampshire crash data shows that impairment continues to be a primary cause of crashes. Alcohol is no longer the only cause of impairment. Alcohol and drugs, legal and illegal, are major causes of all crashes. Recent data shows that impairment is involved in at least 40% of the crashes that happen on our roadways and are responsible, therefore for a significant number of our crash related deaths and injuries.
These crashes, like all crashes, are preventable if only we could collectively embrace the reality that we can not continue to drive under the influence.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), young people, motorcyclists and drivers with prior history of driving under the influence pose the greatest risk on our roadways. This link also provides information on prevention efforts.
At all levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of being involved in a crash is greater for young people than for older people. Among drivers with BAC levels of 0.08% or higher involved in fatal crashes in 2016, nearly three in 10 were between 25 and 34 years of age (27%). The next two largest groups were ages 21 to 24 (26%) and 35 to 44 (22%).1
Motorcyclists:Among motorcyclists killed in fatal crashes in 2016, 25% had BACs of 0.08% or greater. Motorcyclists ages 35-39 have the highest percentage of deaths with BACs of 0.08% or greater (38% in 2016).7
Drivers with prior driving while impaired (DWI) convictions:Drivers with a BAC of 0.08% or higher involved in fatal crashes were 4.5 times more likely to have a prior conviction for DWI than were drivers with no alcohol in their system. (9% and 2%, respectively).
What safety steps can individuals take?
Whenever your social plans involve alcohol and/or drugs, make plans so that you don’t have to drive while impaired. For example:
- Before drinking, designate a non-drinking driver when with a group.
- Don’t let your friends drive impaired.
- If you have been drinking or using drugs, get a ride home, use a rideshare service or call a taxi.
- If you’re hosting a party where alcohol will be served, remind your guests to plan ahead and designate their sober driver; offer alcohol-free beverages, and make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.