Thirty-nine percent (39%) of all traffic fatalities in 2005 were alcohol related — meaning either the driver of the crash vehicle or nonoccupant (e.g., a pedestrian or a bicyclist) had a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.01 gram per deciliter (g/dL). The 16,885 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2005 represent a 5% reduction from the 17,732 alcohol-related fatalities in 1995. The U.S. is making progress toward reducing alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
On average one alcohol-related fatality occurs every 31 minutes. Of the 16,885 people who died in alcohol-related crashes in 2005, 14,539 (86%) were killed in crashes where at least one driver or nonoccupant had a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher. An estimated 254,000 persons were injured in crashes where police reported that alcohol was present In 2004, an estimated 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. This is an arrest rate of 1 for every 139 licensed drivers in the United States.
In fatal crashes in 2005, the highest percentage of drivers with BAC levels .08 g/dL or higher was for drivers ages 21-24 (32%), followed by ages 25-34 (28%) and 35-44 (23%).
In 2005, a total of 414 (21%) of the fatalities among children age 14 and younger occurred in crashes involving alcohol. Of those 414 fatalities, more than half (224) of those killed were passengers in vehicles with drivers who had been drinking.
Male drivers who die in motor vehicle crashes are almost twice as likely as female drivers to be legally drunk (BAC of 0.08 g/dL or greater). The highest intoxication rates among drivers in fatal crashes in 2005 were drivers ages 21-24 (32%), followed by ages 25-34 (28%) and 35-44 (23%).
Each year alcohol-related crashes cost the U.S. $51 billion annually in direct cost, loss of earnings and household productivity.