States Where Drunk Driving Deaths Are Soaring

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its annual report on driving deaths in America. What it calls “alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities” dropped 3.6% from 2017 to 2018. However, in several states, the number has soared.

For each state, the NHTSA reports total driving fatalities and alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities side by side so they can be compared. In some states, alcohol is blamed for over 40% of deaths. The report also shows the change in alcohol-related deaths from 2017 to 2018. The number surged by over 25% in several states. These included:

  • Alaska, up 31.8% to 29 in 2018
  • Minnesota, up 25.0% to 105
  • Montana, up 38.6% to 79
  • New Hampshire, up 77.8% to 48
  • South Dakota, up 25.0% to 45
  • Nationwide, down 3.6% to 10,511

Last year, 24/7 Wall St. looked at the problem and came to the conclusion that: “Several factors affect the number and rate of drunk driving deaths in a state. One main factor is the state’s population, such as the culture and median age — younger people tend to be at higher risk of drunk driving deaths because they drink more. Another factor is annual vehicle miles traveled, meaning that rural states tend to have higher rates of drunk driving deaths. Other factors include state laws, initiatives such as alcohol ignition interlock programs, and the level of law enforcement — all of which can be a deterrence to drunk driving.”

The analysis also found that high levels of drunk driving deaths occurred in sparsely populated and cold-weather states.

Drunk driving laws and stricter punishments have been credited with much of the reduction in drunk driving deaths over the past two decades. However, the rate of decline has slowed. Experts now face the challenge of whether there are other methods to push the rate down again. In several states, the drunk driving death rate has still risen sharply, which is an example of how the problem continues to persist.