In the United States, driving while under the influence of alcohol is responsible for one death every 52 minutes. These deaths occur despite a heightened awareness of the risks and consequences associated with driving while intoxicated. In recent decades, organizations such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have campaigned to bring awareness to the problem, with hopes of reducing the number of occurrences. These efforts provide a wealth of statistical information on all facets of these accidents, which Avvo analyzed to find out more about the anatomy of fatal DUIs.
Where are fatal DUIs happening most often?
The data show a total of 94,550 accidents involving both a DUI and a death nationwide since 2004. Many of these accidents occur on the interstates and highways running through the most rural areas of the country. These major roadways are less numerous than local street or county roads and often run through much less populated areas. Yet despite rural roads being less populated, an NHTSA study shows that crashes in rural areas account for 54% of the associated fatalities.
The most dangerous stretches of highways can be found running through the Western United States, from Montana and down through New Mexico. Some of the accidents can be attributed to the higher speed limits and long distances associated with the open roads of these areas.
The numbers for these rural highways also skew higher because rural drivers are both more likely to keep driving under the influence despite prior DUI convictions and be under the compounding effects of drugs and alcohol. Other challenges include poor lighting conditions, unfamiliar roads for travelers who are passing through, and more variable terrain.
Rural areas of Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, and South Dakota rank at the top of the per capita fatality list, and they are home to many of the most deadly stretches of interstate in the country. Fatal crashes are several times more likely to occur along the major roadways in these states than in any other place. Although Montana’s Interstate 90 is the single most dangerous road in this regard, Wyoming appears in the top 10 three times, making it the most dangerous state.
Read the full Avvo study for more information on:
- The role of public transportation (or the lack thereof) in DUI fatalities
- How youth correlates with DUI and fatality rates
- The number of drinks it takes to be considered a drunk driver