Is the Number of Drunk Driving Accidents Falling?

Staying safe on the road is hard enough, even when everyone around us has full control of their faculties. People speed, text, tailgate, and weave aggressively through traffic, requiring safe drivers to maintain a constant state of vigilance. But it can be much worse, and every motorist’s nightmare, to encounter a driver who is under the influence of an intoxicant and driving with impaired judgment.

This issue has existed across the country for decades now. Of course, states throughout America, including Oregon, have taken steps to reduce incidences of impaired driving and the death and personal injury it causes.

In this article, we’ll discuss whether these steps have borne fruit and whether drunk driving accidents are really decreasing.

The Scope of the Drunk Driving Problem

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that someone in America dies in a drunk driving crash every 50 minutes. That’s almost 30 deaths every day and more than 10,000 fatalities per year.

Additionally, for calendar year 2018, NHTSA reports that 29 percent of fatalities resulting from motor vehicle crashes were caused by drunk driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes cost the economy $44 billion every year.

Steps Taken to Address Drunk Driving

Recognizing the extent of the problem, lawmakers, law enforcement agencies, non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, concerned citizens and others have worked together to adopt laws and policies designed to reduce or prevent drunk driving. For example, many of us have passed through law enforcement checkpoints designed to remove impaired drivers from the road. Similarly, police agencies have created task forces specifically designed to address impaired driving. 

States have also passed stricter laws on permitted blood alcohol levels. The minimum age for consuming alcohol was raised across the U.S. and states have passed zero tolerance laws for drivers younger than 21. Courts have also turned to the use of required interlock devices for certain classes of drivers convicted of driving under the influence of intoxicants. And of course, public relations campaigns designed to educate us all have become ubiquitous.

In Oregon, 2017 Oregon Revised Statutes Section 813.010 provides that the permitted blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers is .08 percent. A driver can also be convicted for driving under the influence of intoxicants if there is sufficient proof the driver was “under the influence” of alcohol and other substances listed in the statute, even if the alcohol level does not exceed .08 BAC. 

Has There Been Success in Reducing Drunk Driving?

The good news is that all of these actions taken across the country to target drunk driving have helped considerably. NHTSA states that in the last 30 years, deaths from drunk driving have fallen 33 percent. According to the Foundation for Advanced Alcohol Responsibility, drunk driving deaths have decreased 50 percent since 1982. Amazingly, drunk driving fatalities for persons under 21 years of age have fallen 81 percent. 

These statistics are encouraging, demonstrating that concerted activity can have positive results. But we need to remember that there is still work to be done. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), people still drive drunk more than 300,000 times per day. Moreover, the average person arrested the first time for drunk driving had previously driven under the influence more than 80 times. Further, 50 to 75 percent of people who lose their licenses continue to drive.

Call with Questions

The decrease in drunk driving deaths over time gives us hope that the trend will continue. However, the experienced personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield believe that improvements will only continue if those who drive under the influence of intoxicants are held accountable for the injuries they cause. We are here to make sure that happens.

No one should suffer wrongful death or personal injury at the hands of a drunk driver. Sadly, deciding to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant is a decision that a driver makes willingly and with the full knowledge of the dangers it creates. If you or a loved one has suffered death or injury due to the actions of a drunk driver, we are here to answer any questions you have about your rights.


Call us at 1.877.928.9147 For A Free Consultation!

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