An average of 1 alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurred every 48 minutes in 2017 (1).
The problem of driving under the influence:
- Texas continues to lead the nation in alcohol impaired driving fatalities (1).
- In 2017, 27% drivers with BAC levels of .08% or higher were between 21 and 24 years of age, the second largest percent of any age group (1).
- The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017 was 3.6 times times higher at night than during the day (32% versus 9%), this has remained constant over the past 10 years (1).
- For college aged individuals (18-24), the highest number of fatalities occurred between midnight and 2:59 a.m.. Among crashes that involved alcohol – a whopping 35% occurred between 12 am – 3 am (2).
- In 2017, 15 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes during the week were alcohol-impaired, compared to 28 percent on weekends (1).
Binge Drinking and Heavy Drinking:
- In the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 36.9% of young adults ages 18-25 or more than a third of young adults were current binge alcohol users (3).
- In addition, about 1 in every 10 young adults were heavy alcohol users in 2017 (3).
- Young people ages 18-25 continue to have the highest level of binge alcohol use compared to any other age group (3).
- Alcohol use in college students is higher than their non-college peers. 62% of college students reported alcohol use in the past month compared to 56.4% of their non-college peers (4).
- College students are also reporting higher levels of mixing alcohol with energy drinks in the past year compared to their non-college peers (31.5% vs 26.7%) (4).
What to do about driving under the influence of alcohol:
- Driving after even one drink is just not worth it. Ride with a sober friend, ask someone else to drive or call a parent or older sibling. Be sure to always keep a DUDE around: DESIGNATED UNIMPAIRED DRIVER EXTRAORDINAIRE.
- A good rule of thumb to know if someone has had to much is to count their drinks NOT their physical cues of intoxication. Research has shown that most people don’t exhibit signs of intoxication until over .15(5).
- Food, coffee or exercise will not reduce the amount of alcohol in your system. Only time decreases the effects of alcohol.
- Don’t believe you can “fool” a police officer. They are trained to look for tale-tell signs of a driver who is under the influence.
- If a friend has been drinking and is about to drive, speak up. Offer to drive, take the keys or call a parent. An angry friend is better than a dead friend.
- Never get in the car with a driver who has been drinking. Everyone reacts to alcohol differently. If you know a friend has been drinking, assume they are unable to drive.
Additional consequences of driving under the influence:
- Violators of underage drinking laws often face a trip to jail, the loss of their driver’s license, and dozens of other unanticipated expenses including attorney fees, court costs, and other fines (5).
- The Texas Department of Transportation conducted a study which found that a first time offender could expect to pay between $5,000 and $24,000 for DWI arrest and conviction.
- College students surveyed also reported experiencing the following when drinking alcohol (6):
- Did something they later regretted (33%)
- Forgot where they were or what they did (27%)
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Safety Facts 2017 data: alcohol-impaired driving. Washington, DC. Available at URL: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812630
- Fatality Analysis Reporting System, 2017.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHFFR2017/NSDUHFFR2017.pdf
- NIDA, Drug and Alcohol Use in College-Age Adults in 2017. Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/drug-alcohol-use-in-college-age-adults-in-2017
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Hingson RW, Zha W, Weitzman ER. Magnitude of and trends in alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18-24, 1998-2005. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, July(Suppl 16): 12-20, 2009. http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/
- American College Health Association, Fall 2018. National College Health Assessment, Undergraduate Student Reference Group. Available at: https://www.acha.org/documents/ncha/NCHA-II_Fall_2018_Undergraduate_Reference_Group_Executive_Summary.pdf