Traffic fatalities spiked in the United States at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic and have continued to climb. According to a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the trend is partially the result of rising instances of risky behavior among motorists – including driving under the influence of alcohol. (Here is a look at the states where car deaths are increasing the most.)
Deaths attributable to drunk driving rose by a reported 14% from 2019 to 2020. All told, there were 10,598 fatal crashes involving alcohol in 2020. These accidents resulted in 11,654 deaths, including nearly 1,000 pedestrians.
Based on these numbers, someone is killed in a drunk-driving crash every 45 minutes in the United States, on average. Still, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that traffic fatalities resulting from alcohol impaired driving are more common at certain times of day.
Using 2020 data from the NHTSA, 24/7 Wall St. identified the time of day when fatal drunk-driving crashes are the most common in each state. Time periods are broken into three hour increments, from midnight to 11:59 p.m. These figures, while comprehensive, are preliminary and subject to modification by the NHTSA.
Nationwide, the largest share of fatal drunk-driving crashes – 23% in 2020 – occurred in the three hour period from 9 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. The three hours from 6 p.m. to 8:59 p.m. accounted for the second largest share, at about 20%. Meanwhile, only 3% of fatal drunk-driving accidents took place between 9 a.m. and 11:59 a.m.
While many states follow the national pattern, there are also some notable outliers – including several states where most deadly drunk-driving crashes occur in the mid-afternoon or the early morning.
The crashes tallied on this list involved a driver with a blood alcohol content of at least 0.08% – the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle in the United States. They include both single and multiple vehicle accidents, and each resulted in the deaths of either drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. Here is a look at the car models people drive drunk the most.
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