Many people are now thinking of Thanksgiving, family gatherings and turkey feasts, but for some this holiday also means a lot of driving. In 2008, there were 502 traffic fatalities during the Thanksgiving weekend, including 179 (or 36%) drunk driving fatalities.
On the eve of this holiday The Century Council has released its annual summary of alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The report presents the latest available state-by-state as well as trend data in easy to read graphs.
In 2008 historic low levels of drunk driving fatalities, that is fatalities involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 or higher, were reported overall and among persons under 21 years of age. Since the inception of The Century Council in 1991, drunk driving has declined 26% nationally, and among persons under 21 the decline has been even more significant, decreasing 48%. Unfortunately, the median BAC level among drinking drivers in fatal crashes remains at .16, twice the legal limit, and hardcore drunk drivers continue account for an unequal proportion of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. In 2008, hardcore drunk drivers were responsible for 68% of the alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities, and drivers with a BAC of .15 or higher in fatal crashes were nine times more likely to be repeat offenders than drivers with no alcohol.
The Century Council has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to fighting drunk driving and underage drinking – two of society’s top safety concerns – and will continue to support the enactment of comprehensive drunk driving legislation. Much progress has been made over the past 18 years in terms of drunk driving. While The Century Council cannot claim sole responsibility for these significant reductions, The Century Council has been a leader in reaching these record low levels. We hope the information presented in the report will serve as a useful reference tool in the fight to eliminate drunk driving this holiday and in the coming year.