Even though it is well known that drinking alcohol impairs your ability to drive, some believe that they can handle it and still get behind the wheel without any problems. However, in 2014, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol impaired driving crashes, meaning that the driver who caused the crash had a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher. This comes out to one alcohol impaired driving fatality every 53 minutes. Considering that there were a total of 32,675 traffic fatalities in the United States for the entire year, the fact that alcohol played a role in 31% of the deaths is staggering.
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That being said, the United States is a large country and instances of drunk drivers are not equally spread out across each state. By taking numbers provided by the National Highway and Safety Administration and combining it with other relevant data, we decided to shed some light on the issue and find out which states have the worst share of drunk driving and alcohol related fatalities.
1. North Dakota: North Dakota tops out the list with almost half (49%) of the state’s overall traffic deaths influenced by the presence of alcohol. Furthermore, it has the 8th highest number of DUI arrests per 100,000 residents, meaning that that number could be much higher if not for the activity of law enforcement.
2. Texas: Texas is tied for number two with Massachusetts at 47% and also has one of the lowest rates of DUI arrests per 100,000 residents. Percentages aside, the sheer size of Texas means that it is responsible for more alcohol related deaths than any other state at 1,446 in 2014.
3. Massachusetts: Even though Massachusetts is tied in terms of percentage of alcohol involved fatalities with Texas and has a low rate of DUI arrests, the population of Massachusetts reduces the number of deaths caused by a driver with .08 BAC or above to only 133.
4. Connecticut: Even though Connecticut has some of the strictest laws on DUI in the country, it ranks fourth in terms of alcohol related deaths and one of the last in terms of DUI arrests. Like Massachusetts, the state is smaller, but the laws designed to protect their drivers are clearly not working as they should.
5. Montana: According to 2014 data, Montana ranks fifth in alcohol related deaths at 44%. It also has one of the highest youth alcohol consumption and binge drinking rates in the country. Even though it falls in the middle of the pack in terms of DUI arrests, it makes our list.
Regardless of what metric you want to use, having a high percentage of alcohol involved fatalities creates a dangerous environment for drivers. While it’s not always easy to determine what correlates to higher numbers of drunk driver crashes, the numbers do provide insight to the drunk driving climate of each state. If you are surprised about these results, check the list above to see how your state compares. Most importantly, remember that wherever you find yourself in the United States, to stay safe and make smart decisions behind the wheel.
Rob writes for the Omaha personal injury attorneys at Knowles Law Firm in Nebraska.