Everyone knows that driving after a few too many drinks is dangerous. Consequences can include serious fatal car wrecks and life-changing criminal prosecutions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration compiled a number of DUI measurements as part of its ongoing nation-wide anti-drunk driving campaign. Although DUI dangers are common knowledge, these statistics are even more alarming.
For starters, law enforcement officers arrested 1.4 million drivers on DUI-related charges in 2009. That adds up to more arrests and prosecutions in the United States than many other countries have people.
Drunk driving accidents happen the most between midnight and 3:00 a.m. when people are trying to get home from bars and other venues. On average, an accident kills one person every 23 minutes during those nighttime hours. The total annual fatality count in the United States is 11,000. The NHTSA points out that this is the equivalent of 21 jumbo jet crashes.
Motorcycle riders are at even greater risk when driving drunk. 42 percent of single-vehicle motorcycle crashes involved a drunk driver. Of motorcyclists between the ages of 35 and 44, 40 percent of fatalities were drunk at the time of the crash.
Federal agencies estimate the total financial cost of DUIs when spread across the entire American population amounts to $500 per year.
These human and financial costs demonstrate why federal and state law enforcement authorities are so intent on apprehending and prosecuting impaired drivers.
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over," Aug. 2012