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Why do people drive drunk?

Despite decades of warnings, Public Service Announcements, Mothers Against Drunk Driving campaigns and ever stiffer OUI/DWI/DUI penalties, many people still choose to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or get into a car with a driver they know is drunk. Do you? Why?

Recovery.org reports that a recent survey revealed the following reasons why people say they drive while under the influence or allow others to do so:

  • Let friends drive drunk because they have “safely” done so on prior occasions – 40%
  • Drive drunk because they are going to a “hook-up” location – 25%
  • Let friends drive drunk because they do not want to argue about it – 20% for men, 7% for women
  • Drive drunk because they believe they can drive safely even when they suspect their alcohol consumption has exceeded the legal limit – 10%

Survey demographics

Age demographics for this survey and its troubling results broke down as follows:

  • Age 37-52: 62%
  • Age 20-36: 15%
  • Age 18-19: 31%

Alcohol-related fatalities

The above demographics clearly indicate that virtually no one of any age has gotten the “don’t drink and drive” message. If you are someone who has not, you may want to consider that National Highway Transportation Safety Administration statistics show that drunk driving has consistently accounted for about 30% of U.S. traffic fatalities during the past 35 years.

In 1985, 18,125 people died on the nation’s roads in alcohol-related crashes, representing 41% of all crash fatalities. By 2016, the number of alcohol-related crash fatalities had decreased to 10,996 and represented 20% of all crash fatalities. In 2018, the last year for which statistics are available, the raw number of alcohol-related crash fatalities had gone down slightly, coming in at 10,551 people who lost their lives this way. As a percentage of all crash fatalities, however, that figure rose to 29%.

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