The Drunkest (and Driest) Cities in America

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15. Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.7%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 19.8%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 509 (165.4 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $40,811

A relatively small 12.7% share of adults in the Bristol, Tennessee, metropolitan area drink excessively. Additionally, a relatively small portion of fatal auto accidents in the area are attributed to drunk driving. Of the fatal auto accidents in the metro area, fewer than one in five involved alcohol. This is well below the 30.0% of driving deaths nationwide.

College students age 18 to 22 are more likely than the typical adult to binge drink, increasing the excessive drinking rate in places where many of them live. In the Bristol area, just 4.4% of residents are enrolled in college, below the 7.0% national average.

14. Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.6%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 26.5%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 574 (159.6 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $42,420

Just 11.8% of West Virginia adults drink excessively, a smaller share than in any other state. Though the Huntington metro area has a higher excessive drinking rate than West Virginia as a whole, at 12.6%, it still ranks among U.S. cities with the lowest excessive drinking rates.

Alcohol may be prohibitively expensive for many lower income Americans. In the Huntington metro area, the typical household earns $42,420 a year, well below the national median household income of $57,617 a year.

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13. Gadsden, AL
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.4%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 31.5%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 158 (154.1 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $41,152

Some 12.4% of adults in Gadsden report drinking excessively, the lowest rate in Alabama, which already has one of the lowest excessive drinking rates among states at 14.2%. While unhealthy drinking habits are not especially common in Gadsden, other unhealthy habits are. Some 34.2% of adults in the Gadsden area report no leisure time physical activity, one of the highest inactivity rates of any U.S. metro area. Also, 36.8% of metro area adults are obese — one of the highest obesity rates of any U.S. metro area.

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12. Knoxville, TN
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.3%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 28.9%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 1,353 (155.7 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $49,862

Knoxville is home to the University of Tennessee and its 28,321 students. College towns frequently report higher than average excessive drinking rates, but not Knoxville. Just 12.3% of area adults drink excessively, compared to the 18.0% of American adults who do.

Since the number of students at the school represent a small fraction of the Knoxville area’s 869,076 residents, students at the University of Tennessee do not drastically increase the excessive drinking rate for the area. In fact, only 6.4% of Knoxville area residents are enrolled in either undergraduate classes or graduate school. That is slightly below the national rate of college enrollment of 7.0%.

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11. Johnson City, TN
> Pct. adults drinking to excess: 12.3%
> Pct. driving deaths involving alcohol: 31.7%
> Est. number of restaurants and bars: 330 (164.6 per 100,000)
> Median household income: $40,943

Just 12.3% of adults in the Johnson, Tennessee, metro area report excessive drinking. . While unhealthy drinking habits are not especially common in Johnson City, other unhealthy habits are.

Some 32.1% of adults report no leisure time physical activity, one of the highest rates of any U.S. metro area. A lack of exercise can increase the risk of serious conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer and adults in Johnson City are less likely to be in good health than the typical American adult.