10 States Where Drunk Driving Kills the Most People

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Between 2007 and 2014, the number of people killed in crashes on U.S. highways dropped by 21%, from 41,259 to 32,744. Fatalities increased to 35,485 in 2015 and to 37,461 in 2016, reducing the improvement by more than one-third.

Similarly, alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities are up from 9,943 in 2014 to 10,497 in 2016, an increase of about 5.6% in just two years. Drunk driving fatalities accounted for about 12% of the increase between 2014 and 2016, but 28% of the increase between 2015 and 2016.

Fatalities in crashes involving drunk drivers accounted for 28% of all highway deaths last year, the lowest percentage since 1982 when the NHTSA began reporting data related to alcohol-impaired driving.

The data were released Friday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The agency noted that the two-year percentage increase in total highway deaths was the most since the increases in 1964 and 1965.

The largest percentage increase in what the NHTSA calls the “human choice” category came in the failure to use safety restraints (up 4.6% year over year), speeding (up 4%), and drunk driving (up 1.7%).

According to the NHTSA’s report for 2016, 29 States and the District of Columbia saw year-over-year increases in the number of alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities, with the largest increase of 148 fatalities in California followed by 53 more in Florida. In 17 states and Puerto Rico the number of deaths attributed to drunk driving declined and in 4 states there was no change

Here are the 10 states posting the largest percentage fatalities attributed to drunk-driving in 2016:

  • Montana: 45% (85 of 190 total highway deaths)
  • North Dakota: 45% (50 of 113)
  • Vermont: 43% (27 of 62)
  • South Dakota: 39% (46 of 116)
  • District of Columbia: 38% (10 of 27)
  • Texas: 38% (1,438 of 3,776)
  • Rhode Island: 37% (19 of 51)
  • Alaska: 36% (30 of 84)
  • Connecticut: 34% (100 of 293)
  • Maine and South Carolina: 33% (54 of 161 and 331 of 1,015, respectively)

The 10 states where the percentage of drunk-driving related deaths rose the most year over year between 2015 and 2016:

  • Vermont: up 80% (an increase of 12)
  • District of Columbia: up 66.7% (an increase of 4)
  • Alaska: up 36.4% (an increase of 8)
  • Iowa: up 35.9% (an increase of 28)
  • New Jersey: up 26.9% (an increase of 29)
  • Indiana: up 22.7% (an increase of 39)
  • New Hampshire: up 21.2% (an increase of 7)
  • Utah: up 20.9% (an increase of 9)
  • New Mexico: up 20.4% (an increase of 20)
  • Alabama: up 13.4% (an increase of 33)

The 10 states with the smallest percentage of drunk-driving related deaths in 2016:

  • Utah: 19% (52 of 281 total highway deaths)
  • Mississippi: 19% (128 of 690)
  • Arkansas: 21% (117 of 545)
  • Kentucky: 21% (175 of 834)
  • Tennessee: 21% (223 of 1,041)
  • Kansas: 22% (94 of 429)
  • Michigan: 22% (236 of 1,034)
  • New Jersey: 23% (137 of 601)
  • Minnesota: 24% (93 of 392)
  • North Carolina: 24% (354 of 1,450)

The NHTSA’s full report on 2016 highway fatalities is available here.