The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2015, 10,265 people died in vehicle accidents involving alcohol. Broken down, that amounts to 28 people a day – or one death every 53 minutes. And the costs weren’t simply in lives – the total impact of the crashes are estimated at $52 billion a year. Most shockingly, the NHTSA reports there is a 1/3 chance of being involved in an alcohol-related crash over the course of a lifetime.
Kentucky’s DUI RatesKentucky is far from immune. According to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 2,041 people were killed between 2003 and 2012 in accidents involving alcohol, and 1.5 percent of adults reported driving after having too much to drink. In 2015, The Kentucky Department of Transportation (KYDOT) reported 162 fatal alcohol-related collisions, 1,418 injury collisions, 175 killed and 2,072 injured.
Alcohol and Teen DrivingThe statistics for teen driving indicate teens are far more likely to be involved in fatal accidents than adults. The CDC states that in 2015, more than 2,333 teens in the United States died as the result of motor vehicle accidents, and 221,313 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries. In total, an average of six teens a day died because of accidents. KYDOT reports that in 2014 there were 23,679 crashes, with 7,118 injuries and 97 fatalities involving drivers under 21-years-old. Of the fatal crashes, 35 percent involved alcohol. In Kentucky, there is a zero-tolerance policy, meaning teens may have absolutely no alcohol in their system when driving. The CDC states that the numbers of teen drunk drivers have gone down 54 percent since 1991, but one in 10 teens in high school still drink and drive, and a teen is 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or more.
PreventionThe CDC suggests some measures are effective for eliminating teen driving after consumption of alcohol, including:
- Minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) laws in every state make it illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under age 21. Research has shown that enforcement of MLDA laws using alcohol retailer compliance checks has reduced retail sales of alcohol to those under the legal drinking age.
- Zero tolerance laws in every state make it illegal for those under age 21 to drive after drinking any alcohol. Research has demonstrated that these laws have reduced drinking and driving crashes involving teens.
- Graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems help new drivers get more experience under less risky conditions. As teens move through stages, they gain privileges, such as driving at night or driving with passengers. Every state has GDL, but the specific rules vary. Research indicates that GDL systems prevent crashes and save lives.
- Parental involvement, with a focus on monitoring and restricting what new drivers are allowed to do, helps keep new drivers safe as they learn to drive. Parents can consider creating and signing a parent-teen driving agreement with their teens. Research has shown that when parents establish and enforce the “rules of the road,” new drivers report lower rates of risky driving, traffic violations, and crashes.