30M Americans Drive Drunk on Average Annually

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With the holidays underway and numerous nights of alcohol-filled parties, there is a risk of more drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol taking to the streets. According to a new survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over the course of an average year, 30 million Americans drive drunk, while 10 million drive under the influence of drugs.

The rates of driving under the influence varied significantly among the states, with some topping 20 percent, like Wisconsin (23.7 percent) and North Dakota (22.4 percent). Rhode Island (7.8 percent) and Vermont (6.6 percent) led the way for highest rates of driving under the influence of drugs.

The lowest rates of drunk driving took place in Utah (7.4 percent) and Mississippi (8.7 percent). Iowa and New Jersey had the lowest levels of drugged driving in the past year (2.9 percent and 3.2 percent respectively).

Information on Public Health Risks of Alcohol Misuse

Drivers from 16-25 drove drunk more often than those 26 or older (19.5 percent versus 11.8 percent). Younger people also drove while under the influence of illicit drugs more (11.4 percent versus 2.8 percent).

Overall, there has been a reduction of drunk and drugged driving in the past few years. Survey data from 2002 through 2005 combined when compared to data gathered from 2006 to 2009 combined indicate that the average yearly rate of drunk driving has declined from 14.6 percent to 13.2 percent, while the average yearly rate of drugged driving has decreased from 4.8 percent to 4.3 percent. Twelve states experienced declines in drunk driving rates, while seven had lower rates of driving while drugged.

"Thousands of people die each year as a result of drunk and drugged driving, and the lives of thousands of family members and friends left behind are forever scarred," said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. "Some progress has been made in reducing the levels of drunk and drugged driving through education, enhanced law enforcement and public outreach efforts. However, the nation must continue to work to prevent this menace and confront these dangerous drivers in an aggressive way."

So this holiday season make sure to not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol and to make use of designated drivers.
  • Ann Binlot

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