Drunk Driving Car Accidents

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  November 08 ,
| 4 Sources

Drunk driving car accidents statics of how many people die in car accidents due to drunk driving are staggering. The fact that this is a problem we face as a society and can be prevented with the help of others makes it even more important for people to do what they can.

In this article, you will find information on why drunk driving is bad, how it happens, and how you can prevent it from happening.

Drunk driving car accidents claim the lives of more than 15,000 people in the U.S. every year. Drunk driving accidents injure many more. As you can see, drunk driving car accidents are a very serious, and very prevalent, problem.

Drunk driving car accidents are not only a problem because they often result in the death of innocent citizens, but also because it is completely preventable. The only reason the numbers remain so high is because people still choose to drive drunk despite knowing that doing so can likely lead to injury or death for them and others.

Some Facts About Drunk Driving

  • One-third of all Americans will be involved in drunk driving accidents at some point in their life time.
  • Drunk drivers are less likely to wear their safety belts than sober drivers, putting themselves at greater risk for injury in the event of an accident.
  • Someone is injured in an alcohol-related car accident approximately every 60 seconds.
  • Someone is killed in an alcohol-related car accident approximately every 40 minutes.
  • Sixty percent of all teen deaths in car accidents are alcohol related.
  • Drunk driving car accidents cost the U.S. an average of $114 billion annually.

How Do Drunk Driving Accidents Happen?

Obviously, these accidents occur when a person has had too much to drink. In the U.S., the legal limit is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent. That means it is illegal for drivers to operate a motor vehicle if their blood alcohol concentration is higher than that.

That’s because drivers who have had more to drink have impaired coordination, slowed reaction time, and impaired judgment.

Drunk driving accidents may occur in a number of ways. Some intoxicated drivers drive too quickly, but many drive below the speed limit, trying to be extra careful.

However, they often weave across the center line. They may run red lights or stop signs. They may fail to yield for other cars or pedestrians.


Drunk driving car accidents also generally occur when a driver has been drinking alcohol and gets behind the wheel of their vehicle. This person then proceeds to get into an accident with another vehicle or with a pedestrian/cyclist, etc., resulting in serious injuries or death.

There are many tragic stories about individuals who have lost loved ones due to drunk drivers. Due to this fact alone, people should be more aware of the danger that drunk driving car accidents pose.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Person Behind the Wheel

The fact is that alcohol impairs one's ability to think and focus, making it unsafe for them to operate a motor vehicle. It only takes about three or four drinks for most people to feel the effects of alcohol; after this point they will no longer be able to drive safely. Even when sober, drivers need about 3 seconds to react at 60 mph; anything less than 3 seconds means an accident is likely.

Three seconds is barely enough time for a driver who is sober to scan the road in front of him/her and take corrective action as needed, but it doesn't leave enough time for someone under the influence of alcohol to scan the road and take action.

In addition, a person's tolerance for alcohol varies based on their age, size, gender and other factors which means that there is no concrete number of drinks at or above which it becomes too risky to drive. The only certain thing about how many drinks are too much when driving is that there really isn't any such thing as "too few" drinks in terms of safe driving.

It doesn't have to be an entire six pack either; any amount of alcohol can impair your ability to focus and react in time to prevent an accident. Even after having just one beer or glass of wine, you could still put yourself and others on the road at risk.

It should be noted that the effects of alcohol are not just based on the amount of drinks you have, but they depend heavily on your body weight and how fast you drink; so it is possible to become legally intoxicated after only one or two drinks if those drinks were consumed very quickly.

It is also important to remember that leaving even a small amount of time between drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel does not mean that you are safe from the danger posed by drunk driving accidents.

The truth is that there really isn't any way for a person who is under the influence (or simply has too much to drink) to tell when they actually should no longer drive, and this makes them a major risk for causing an accident while driving.

Drunk Driving Car Accidents and Adolescents

Teens are at particular risk for drunk driving accidents. Experts report that teens are less likely to drive while drunk than adults are, but they are more likely to be in accidents when they do drive. There are several reasons for this.

Teens are affected by alcohol differently than adults. While adults are not considered intoxicated until their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 or above, teens become drunk with a much lower BAC.

For instance, a teenage boy with a blood alcohol concentration of just 0.05 is 18 times more likely to suffer a single vehicle crash than his non-drinking counterparts. And a teenage girl is 54 times more likely to crash!

Experts also suggest that teens are more likely to engage in risky driving behaviors like speeding when driving while intoxicated. In addition, teens have less driving experience than adults, but may overestimate their driving abilities.

It should be noted that while teens are less likely than adults to drive while under the influence, drunk driving is a serious problem among adolescents - an average of eight teens die every day in alcohol-related car crashes.

Preventing Drunk Driving Car Accidents

There are a number of laws aimed at preventing drunk driving. They are supposed to serve as deterrents, as of course they can only be enforced after a drunk driving episode has occurred.

Law enforcement officers are trained to spot drunk drivers and courts are strict in dealing with them. Most states have mandatory jail sentences for first time offenders.

There are also large fines for drunk driving. Drunk drivers are often required to attend alcohol awareness classes and/or treatment programs such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). In addition, interlock devices may be installed on their cars (these are devices that prevent intoxicated people from starting a car).

Stop Alcohol Abuse from Destroying Your Life

Alcohol abuse can destroy your life and your relationship with others in more ways than one. Contact a treatment provider today and put a stop to alcoholism before it gets worse.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

More than drunk driving car accidents on our consequences of drunk driving page

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