2009 Alcohol-Related Crash Deaths Down Slightly

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's 2009 estimate indicates 33 percent of U.S. drivers dying in highway crashes had a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration or higher.

About one-third of the U.S. drivers killed in crashes last year had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher at the time of the crash, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates in a newly posted summary based on DOT's Fatality Analysis Reporting System. While the total estimated 0.08 or higher deaths for 2009, 7,281, is lower than any total dating to 1982, the rate of 33 percent is basically unchanged since 1994, according to the institute's chart.

IIHS says substantial progress has been made in terms of drivers killed with very high BACs -- 0.15 percent or higher -- the so-called "hard-core" drinking drivers. "However," it adds, "little progress has been made since the mid-1990s and alcohol-impaired driving is still a major problem."

The bright spot in the chart is large-truck drivers: With 16 estimated deaths with BACs at or above 0.08, they had a rate of 4 percent in 2009, IIHS estimated. The rate for motorcycle drivers killed in crashes is 30 percent, while it is 37 percent for pedestrians ages 16 or older who died in road accidents.

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