Number of drink-drivers declining in US, poll suggests

20th December, 2017 by Owen Bellwood

The number of people driving under the influence of alcohol in the US dropped in 2017, according to the results of a poll of more than 5,000 drivers.

The number of people reporting driving under the influence was highest in 2016

The poll, conducted by The Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), found that the number of drink-drivers in 2017 was considerably lower than the previous year.

In 2016, the number of drivers who admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol was the highest ever collected from the survey, as was the number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities.

The results of the Anheuser-Busch sponsored study show that the number of fatalities as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol rose between 2014 and 2016, from 9,943 to 10,497.

Dr Ward Vanlaar, chief operating officer of TIRF in Canada and a co-author of the study, said: “When asking US drivers why they drove when they thought they were over the legal alcohol limit, our data consistently revealed the number one answer is that they thought they were ‘OK to drive’.

“Other top reasons include driving short distances, thinking they can drive carefully, and simply not thinking about it. In other words, a lack of appreciation of the dangers associated with this behaviour.”

The poll also revealed a smaller percentage of drivers in 2017 thought they had no alternative to driving after drinking, indicating that drivers are using alternatives such as ride sharing apps and safe ride programmes.

Vanlaar said: “While there is no perfect correlation between self-reported behaviour and its consequences, our early warning system suggests there might be a decrease in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2017.”

These results are based on an annual public opinion survey of over 5,000 American drivers aged 21 years or older.

These findings come after a worldwide campaign from Diageo asking drivers to pledge never to drink and drive reached its target a year early.

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