CDC: 112 Million Drunk Driving Incidents in 2010

Young men, ages 21–34, made up only 11 percent of the U.S. population in 2010, yet were responsible for 32 percent of all episodes of drinking and driving.

Adults drank too much and got behind the wheel about 112 million times in 2010—that is almost 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving each day—according to a CDC Vital Signs study released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The four million adults who drink and drive each year put everyone on the road at risk,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “In fact, nearly 11,000 people are killed every year in crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver.”

For the study, CDC analyzed data from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey.

The study also found that:

  • Men were responsible for 81 percent of drinking and driving in 2010.
  • Young men, ages 21–34, made up only 11 percent of the U.S. population in 2010, yet were responsible for 32 percent of all episodes of drinking and driving.
  • Eighty-five percent of drinking and driving episodes were reported by people who also reported binge drinking. Binge drinking means five or more drinks for men or four or more drinks for women during a short period of time.

“Drunk driving is a public health problem with far-reaching effects,” said Linda C. Degutis, Dr.P.H., M.S.N., director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Drunk drivers, who have delayed reaction times and reflexes, put even the most responsible drivers and pedestrians in harm’s way. Public support to prevent drunk driving is strong. Thankfully, there are proven ways to protect everyone on the road.”

Proven, effective strategies to prevent alcohol-impaired driving include:

  • Sobriety checkpoints : At sobriety checkpoints drivers are stopped to assess their level of alcohol impairment. According to the Transportation Research Board, more widespread, frequent use of these checkpoints could save about 1,500 to 3,000 lives on the road each year.
  • Minimum legal drinking age laws: These laws prohibit selling alcohol to people under age 21 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Keeping 21 as the minimum legal drinking age helps keep young, inexperienced drivers from drinking and driving.
  • Ignition interlocks: These devices prevent drivers who were convicted of alcohol-impaired driving from operating their vehicles if they have been drinking. Interlocks are effective in reducing re-arrest rates from drinking and driving by about two-thirds while the device is on the vehicle, according to CDC.
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