The Drunkest (and Driest) Cities in America

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The Driest Cities in America

Source: Ecjmartin1 / Wikimedia Commons

20. Dothan, AL
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 13.0%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 21.6%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 269 (182.0 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $41,040

Relatively few Dothan, Alabama, adults drink excessively. Some 13.0% of adults in the metro area report excessive drinking, or 5.0 percentage points lower than the national excessive drinking rate of 18.0%.

College students ages 18-22 are more likely than the adult population as a whole to binge drink. Typically, metro areas with large colleges tend to have have high excessive drinking rates, and areas with few college students tend to have have low excessive drinking rates. Just 4.3% of the population in the Dothan metro area is enrolled in graduate or undergraduate classes, one of the lower rates in the country.

Source: Harris Walker / Flickr

19. Rocky Mount, NC
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.9%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 31.3%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 206 (139.8 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $38,972

Some 12.9% of adults in Rocky Mount, North Carolina drink excessively, one of the smallest shares of any metro area. While excessive drinking is not especially common in the metro area, other unhealthy behaviors are. About one in every five adults in Rocky Mount smoke, compared to the 17.9% state and 17.0% U.S. smoking rates. Metro area adults are also less likely to exercise than those across the state and nation as a whole.

Source: Thinkstock

18. Ogden-Clearfield, UT
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.9%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 13.9%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 836 (127.4 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $70,227

Driving is dangerous and a range of factors and circumstances can lead to deadly mistakes on the road. In Ogden-Clearfield, Utah, drunk driving is rarely the culprit. Just 13.9% of driving deaths in the metro area involved alcohol, which was one of the lowest rates in the country and less than half the nationwide rate of 30.0%.

Alcohol is expensive and most of the cities with the lowest excessive drinking rates are relatively low-income. One of the most affluent metro areas in the country, Ogden-Clearfield, Utah is an exception. The metro area’s $70,227 median household income is about $12,600 higher than the national median. The area’s low excessive drinking rate is likely because the majority of residents in Utah are Mormons, and the Mormon church teaches its members to abstain from alcohol.

Source: Thinkstock

17. Fort Smith, AR-OK
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.9%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 31.7%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 397 (141.2 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $40,970

Some 12.9% of the adult population in Fort Smith, Arkansas, drinks excessively, the second smallest share of any metro area in the state and one of the smallest shares of any U.S. metro area. In comparison, 18.0% of American adults and 15.9% of adults across Arkansas drink excessively.

Like many metro areas with lower than average excessive drinking rates, Fort Smith is relatively poor. The typical metro area household earns just $40,970 a year, below both the median income across the state of $44,334 a year and the national median of $57,617 a year. Alcohol can be expensive, and many low income households spend their money elsewhere.

Source: Ken / Flickr

16. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.8%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 27.9%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 935 (110.0 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $36,176

Of the 25 metro areas in Texas, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission has by far the lowest excessive drinking rate. Some 12.8% of adults in McAllen drink to excess, compared to 19.4% of adults across the state.

The median annual household income in the southern Texas metropolitan area is $36,176, which is more than $20,000 below the national median and the second lowest median income of any U.S. metro area. The relatively small share of residents with disposable income may partially explain why the McAllen area has just 110 bars and restaurants per 100,000 people, one of the lowest concentrations in the country.