2022 SafeTREC Traffic Safety Fact Sheet: Alcohol-Impaired Driving

While alcohol-impaired driving fatalities have fallen significantly in the last three decades, NHTSA reports that alcohol-impaired driving still comprises a large percentage of traffic injuries and fatalities. On average in 2020, someone died from an alcohol-impaired driving crash every 45 minutes. There was an increase in the number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities and rate per 100 million Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) in the United States between 2019 and 2020. 

The United States Department of Transportation uses the Safe System Approach to work towards zero roadway fatalities and serious injuries . With alcohol-impaired driving accounting for 30.0 percent of all traffic fatalities, designing streets to protect people even when they make unsafe decisions is critical. The Safe System Approach recognizes human mistakes and vulnerabilities, and designs a system with many redundancies in place to protect everyone. The Federal Highway Administration names safe road users, safe vehicles, safe speeds, safe roads, and post-crash care as key elements of a Safe System. These elements together create multiple layers of protection to improve safety. 

To identify crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers in FARS, SafeTREC applied the multiple imputation method outlined in DOT HS 809 403. Analyses from FARS presented for this program area are derived from crashes with a driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater. Analyses from SWITRS presented in this program area refer to alcohol involvement and include fatalities and serious injuries where law enforcement reported a driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist to have been drinking. Crashes in the program area are defined as one where one or more drivers, pedestrians, or bicyclists is alcohol-impaired or had been drinking (alcohol-involved) depending on which data set is used. 

Garrett Fortin
Jill F. Cooper
Publication date: 
September 12, 2022
Publication type: 
Fact Sheet