With the end of the year come festivities that often involve the consumption of alcohol, making the holidays a dangerous time of the year for people to be out on the road. Even though drunk driving deaths are 100 percent preventable, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that 4,110 people in the United States died in car crashes involving drunk drivers during the month of December over a period from 2013 to 2017. The same federal agency reports that Connecticut’s percentage of fatal crashes involving drunk drivers is well above the national average.
The national average for fatal crashes involving one or more driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher was 29 percent in 2017, showing a 1.1 percent decrease from 2016. According to the NHTSA, the average in Connecticut is significantly higher at 43 percent, or 120 fatal crashes involving one or more drunk driver out of 278 fatal crashes for the whole year. Between 2016 and 2017, fatal crashes involving drunk drivers in Connecticut increased by 3.5 percent, even as the total number of fatal crashes actually decreased slightly.
While these statistics are troubling, it is important to note that there are state-to-state differences in the testing of drivers involved in fatal car crashes. As few as 28.1 percent of drivers who die in car crashes receive blood alcohol testing in Indiana, while as many as 93.8 percent receive it in Massachusetts. At 60.1 percent tested, Connecticut was slightly below the national average of 63.6 percent.
When it comes to testing the blood alcohol content of drivers who survived a crash in which one or more people lost their lives, the percentages are even lower: 46.3 percent in Connecticut and 42.2 percent nationwide; Mississippi was on the low end with 23.4 percent tested, and with 89.2 percent testing, the highest rate of testing belongs to South Dakota.
It is also important to remember that it is not only alcohol use that contributes to impaired driving. AAA polling of Connecticut drivers shows that marijuana, especially among young people, also plays a part in car crashes. Though preventable, collisions involving one or more impaired drivers still occur, and people who have sustained serious injuries as a result may wish to consult an attorney.