Special Report

States Where Drunk Driving Causes the Most Driving Deaths

Despite the widespread lockdowns and the decrease in vehicular travel at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic fatalities still managed to increase, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. After three consecutive years of declining fatalities, there were 38,824 traffic-related deaths in 2020 – the highest figure since 2007. 

The rise in traffic deaths corresponded with an increase in risky driving behaviors. Three major factors in the rising fatalities were drunk driving, speeding, and failure to wear seatbelts. Of 8,643 alcohol impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2020, 1,638 were also unrestrained and speeding. In total, there were 11,654 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities nationwide, accounting for 30% of all 2020 traffic fatalities. (These are America’s drunkest cities.)

To determine the states where drunk driving causes the most accidents, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on alcohol-impaired driving fatalities reported in each state in 2020, using the NHTSA’s report Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes in 2020 published in March of 2022. States were ranked by the percent of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities of all driving deaths.

Nationally, there was a 14% increase in alcohol-related fatalities from 2019 to 2020. Alcohol-related fatalities increased in 40 states. California and Texas had the most alcohol-related driving fatalities, with 1,159 lives lost in California and 1,495 in Texas. Drunk driving fatalities increased by 20% in California and accounted for 30% of all driving fatalities, while they increased by nearly 12% in Texas and accounted for 39% of all fatalities.

Montana, Rhode Island, and Connecticut lead in how much drunk-driving fatalities contributed to overall driving deaths, with 40% or more of all traffic deaths involving alcohol. Some of the largest increases in fatalities were among people aged 25-34, as well as on urban roadways. (These are the most dangerous cities for driving.)

Click here to see the states where drunk driving causes the most driving deaths.
Click here to read our detailed methodology

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