You Drink and Drive. You Lose
Impaired driving is an issue at the forefront of America's public safety agenda, but has faded in visibility over the past few years. Public apathy and confusion over what constitutes impaired driving have contributed to the existing gap between the public perception that impaired driving is no longer a problem. The tragic reality is that nearly 16,000 lives were lost as a result of impaired driving in 1998, the last year of compiled national statistics.
In 1998, 15,935 fatalities and 305,000 injuries were related to impaired driving, accounting for one fatality nearly every 33 minutes and one injury every two minutes. Additionally, traffic-related crashes annually result in more than $45 billion in economic costs.
Impaired driving poses a significant threat for underage drivers (individuals under age 21) and presents a unique challenge to law enforcement agencies. In order to address the special concerns about this group, zero tolerance laws have been enacted in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to focus on underage drivers.
Research shows that more than 33 percent of all fatalities of 15 through 20 year olds resulted from motor vehicle crashes, and of these, more than 35 percent are alcohol-related. In 1998, 14 percent of underage drivers involved in fatal crashes tested positively for alcohol in their system. Young impaired drivers are involved in fatal crashes at approximately twice the rate of drivers aged 21 and over. Research has shown that young impaired drivers are less likely to be detained and arrested than their adult counterparts.
The message is a simple one: Make the right choice - don't drink and drive. Yet, we know that thousands of Americans every year continue to make the wrong choices. Every day hundreds of families and communities experience the tragedy and pain inflicted by impaired drivers. The loss extends beyond fatalities and the impact on families. Everyone pays for impaired driving with higher taxes, higher health care costs and higher insurance premiums.
For one male of every 200 driven in the State of Tennessee in 1997, a legally intoxicated driver sat behind the wheel. Tennessee police report that 10,436 motor vehicle accidents involving a driver or pedestrian with a positive blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimated that a total of 28,900 crashes in Tennessee involved alcohol. These crashes killed 496 and injured an estimated 11,700 people.
In 1997, Tennessee drivers with:
Alcohol is a factor in 37% of Tennessee crash costs. Alcohol-related crashes in Tennessee cost the public more than $2.2 billion in 1997, including more than $0.9 billion in monetary costs and almost $1.3 billion in quality life losses. Alcohol-related crashes are deadlier and more serious than that of other crashes. People other than the drinking driver paid $0.9 billion of the alcohol-related crash bill
The average alcohol related fatality in Tennessee costs $2.8 million:
The estimated cost per injured survivor of an alcohol-related crash averaged $70,000:
Crash costs in Tennessee averaged:
The societal costs of alcohol-related crashes in Tennessee averaged $0.90 per drink consumed. People other than the drinking driver paid $0.40 per drink.
Alcohol-related crashes accounted for an estimated 12% of Tennessee's auto insurance payments. Reducing alcohol-related crashes by 10% would save $60 million in claims payments and loss adjustment expenses.
Tennessee already has many important impaired driving laws. However, a number of additional strategies can be used to mitigate the harm from impaired driving.
The information on this page is developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Information from the "You Drink & Drive. You Lose" Program.