A popular former news anchor in San Antonio was arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI) – or driving while intoxicated (DWI) – this week. Some news reports made the story about the 57-year-old, but perhaps the spotlight should really be more about the dangers of drinking and driving. The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT) offers detailed statistics regarding crashes involving DUI, including a daily calendar showing fatal crashes caused by people who get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Statewide in 2014, a year in which there were no deathless days on Texas roadways, 952 DUI drivers were involved in fatal crashes. Tragically, 1,041 people died last year in crashes in which the driver was under the influence of alcohol. This number accounts for 29% of all people killed in an automobile crash in Texas in 2014.
What many people don’t understand is that the level of impairment a person experiences is not simply dependent upon the amount of alcohol consumed. Instead, it’s the number of drinks consumed during a certain period of time that determines impairment.
On average across our nation, about every 53 minutes, around the clock, one person dies in a DWI crash. In other words, 27 people die daily from drunk driving. In addition, every minute and one-half, a person is injured in an incident involving a driver impaired by alcohol. The times of day differ in the level of danger posed by drunk drivers, however. For instance, in Texas in 2014, there were more alcohol-related crashes between 2 a.m. and 2:59 a.m. than any other hour of the day. Saturday also averages more crashes than other days of the week.
Thanks to initiatives such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, there has been a huge reduction in the number of people injured and killed by drunk drivers since the 1980s. Still more needs to be done.