NHTSA: Drunk-driving fatalities decreased 3.6 percent in 2018

Police car heads toward a traffic accident

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drunk-driving fatalities declined 3.6 percent in 2018 compared with 2017. Overall, highway crash fatalities fell 2.4 percent during the same time period.

That’s a positive sign for everyone who feels that even one drunk driver is too many. However, we agree with U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s observation that while the trend is positive, there’s always room for greater progress.

“This is encouraging news,” Chao said, “but still far too many perished or were injured. Nearly all crashes are preventable, so much more work remains to be done to make America’s roads safer for everyone.”

Ignition Interlock Devices make driving safer

Nearly 400 Fewer Drunk-Driving Fatalities Overall

The report, compiled by NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), specifies an “alcohol-impaired” driving fatality as a crash involving a driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more.

According to the data:

  • Out of 36,560 total driving fatalities in 2018, 10,511 were attributable to drunk drivers – a decrease of 397 drunk-driving fatalities compared with the previous year.
  • The overall number of traffic fatalities in 2018 dropped by 913, from 37,473 in 2017.
  • Drunk driving accounted for 29 percent of all driving fatalities in 2018. That’s the lowest percentage since 1982, when the NHTSA started reporting alcohol-related data.

Learn more about impaired driving acronyms like DUI, DWI and OWI

Drunk-Driving Fatalities Down in 33 States & Washington, D.C.

The FARS data for 2018 showed that 33 states and the District of Columbia saw declines in the number of drunk-driving fatalities, compared with the previous year. California had the largest decrease, with 78 fewer fatalities.

Fatalities increased in 17 states and Puerto Rico. The largest increase in fatalities was in Puerto Rico (+34), followed by Montana (+22).

Which states have strict or lenient DUI laws?

Pedestrians and Pedalcyclist Fatalities Increased

The data also accounts for drunk-driving fatalities among pedestrians and pedalcyclists. Pedestrian fatalities increased by 2.2 percent between 2017 and 2018, while pedalcyclist fatalities grew by 9.2 percent.

NHTSA said it is identifying opportunities to reduce fatalities among pedestrians and pedalcyclists (bicyclists and riders of two-wheel, nonmotorized vehicles, tricycles, and unicycles powered solely by pedals).

Pedestrian fatalities occurred overwhelmingly after dark (76 percent); when pedestrians had some alcohol in their systems (38 percent); and were not at intersections (74 percent; i.e., crossing in the middle of a street or road).

Pedalcyclist fatalities often occurred after dark (50 percent); with some alcohol in their systems (26 percent); and outside of intersections (60 percent).

You can view the entire study here. Smart Start is always ready to help our partners with information about Ignition Interlock Devices or portable alcohol monitoring solutions such as BreathCheck™ or SMART Mobile™.