About One-Third of All Fatalities Involve Impairment

Drivers with alcohol concentrations at or above .08 have been involved in about one-third of all traffic fatalities for the last three decades. Drunk driving crashes continue to claim about 10,000 lives on U.S. roads every year.

That is more than one death every hour of every day. That is also enough to underscore the importance of renewing efforts to end impaired driving of all kinds.

When it comes to the four D’s – drunk, drugged, drowsy and distracted driving – education is one way to affect cultural change. Most adults reach .05 after two to three drinks, and at that level crash risk is 40% higher than at zero alcohol concentration, according to NHTSA.

The same public health outcry that led to smoking bans in the workplace, at restaurants and on airplanes should be extended to drinking and driving. Sometimes, behavior choices are modified only after safety solutions are widely embraced. When seat belts were added as standard equipment on vehicles in the U.S., some were reluctant to use them. Today, nine out of 10 front-seat occupants buckle up.

— Lisa Robinson is a senior program manager with the National Safety Council