DUI Deaths Show Slight Decline in 2005, But Stats Basically Unchanged for Last Decade

Deaths from driving while intoxicated declined slightly across the nation in 2005, and the rate of drunken-driving deaths fell in 23 states last year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported Friday that 23 states and Puerto Rico had a decrease in the fatality rate for crashes involving a driver with an illegal blood alcohol level of at least 0.08. The death rate increased in 21 states and the District of Columbia and remained the same in six other states.

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Illinois reported a decline in DUI deaths (BAC = Blood Alcohol Content*):

State

2004
BAC
.01+

2004
BAC
.08

2004
BAC
.15

2005
BAC
.01+

2005
BAC
.08+

2005
BAC
.15+

Change
BAC
.01+

Change
BAC
.08+

Change
BAC
.15+

Illinois

613

524

344

580

477

319

-5.4%

-9.0%

-7.3%

*Blood alcohol content (BAC) or blood alcohol concentration is the concentration of alcohol in blood — measured either as a percentage by mass, by mass per volume, or a combination. For example, a BAC of 0.20% (2.0 ‰) equals 0.2 grams of alcohol per 100 milliters (also called a deciliter) of blood, or it equals 2 grams of alcohol per 1000 grams of an individual’s blood.

In many countries, the BAC is measured and reported as grams of alcohol per 1000 milliliters (1 liter) of blood (g/1000 mL). Because the specific gravity of blood is very close to the specific gravity of water (its main component). The numerical values or ratios for BAC can be a tenth of a gram per 100 ml, which is noted percent (%) or a gram per 1000 ml which is noted permille (‰ or ppt). These ratios do not differ to any consequential degree other than the placement of the decimal point.

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The NHTSA reported 12,945 motorists died in a crash involving a legally drunk driver in 2005, compared with 13,099 in 2004. Alcohol-related fatalities also fell during that span: from 16,885 in 2005 to 16,919 in 2004. However, the 16,885 figure for alcohol-related fatalities in traffic crashes for 2005 is a figure that is nearly unchanged during the last decade.

“These statistics confirm what every police officer patrolling America’s streets already knows: that irresponsible use of alcohol and driving are a tragic and toxic combination that robs people of their potential and families of their loved ones,” said Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.

Traffic deaths from all causes in 2005 reached the highest level since 1990, propelled by an increase in motorcycle and pedestrian fatalities. The overall fatality rate was up for the first time in 20 years.

Motorcyclists’deaths rose for an eighth straight year, the government said. Nearly half the riders were not wearing helmets.

Some 43,443 people were killed on the highways last year, up 1.4 percent from 42,836 in 2004, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday. It was the highest number in a single year since 1990, when 44,599 people were killed. Motorcycle fatalities rose 13 percent to 4,553 in 2005.

The overall fatality rate grew slightly from 1.45 to 1.47 deaths per 100 million miles traveled — the first increase since 1986.

For better prevention of fatalities, Acting Transportation Secretary Maria Cino said: “Motorcyclists need to wear their helmets, drivers need to buckle up, and all motorists need to stay sober.”

Fifty-five percent of the passenger vehicle occupants killed were not wearing seat belts.

Although the overall fatality rate was up, the number of people injured in crashes declined 3.2 percent, from 2.8 million in 2004 to 2.7 million in 2005.

SOURCE:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Press Release
NHTSA 05-06
Wednesday, August 16, 2006    Contact: Ellen Martin
Telephone: (202) 366-9550