A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety focused on the fact that alcohol-related crash fatalities have remained more or less the same over the past few years, even as the overall incidence of DUI has dropped. The Insurance Institute found a clear paradox in this, and wanted to understand the reasons for this finding.
The analysis involved a comparison of national roadside breath test surveys conducted in 48 states in 1986, 1986 and 2007. The researchers then analyzed this data, and compared it with fatal crash data from the federal administration. The analysis found that while the percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers dropped with every roadside survey, the proportion of fatalities involving blood alcohol concentration above .08% remained fairly stable at about one-third since 1994, after falling by 50% in 1982.
What seemed especially perplexing to the researchers was the fact that there was no difference in drunk driving accident fatalities over this period of time, even though there was a clear drop in the numbers of people driving under the influence of alcohol. The researchers then turned their attention to the characteristics of the persons involved in these fatal car crashes to understand the reasons for this inconsistency. They found that there were certain characteristics common among alcohol-impaired car crash fatalities.
For one thing, persons who were fatally injured in alcohol-related accidents involving a blood alcohol concentration of more than .08%, were less likely to be buckled in at the time of the accident. Seatbelt usage rates are lower among people driving under the influence of alcohol, and earlier studies have confirmed this fact.
Another factor seemed to be the type and model of the vehicle. The researchers found in their analysis that people involved in alcohol-related accidents were much more likely to drive older vehicles. Older automobiles are less likely to come with the kind of safety technologies that can help save lives in an accident. For instance, older vehicles are less likely to come with electronic stability control systems that can reduce the risk of a potentially fatal vehicle rollover, and are also less likely to come with collision warning systems, lane departure warning systems, side impact airbags and other devices that can help protect against fatal injuries.
In addition, drivers who were fatally injured in these alcohol-related accidents were also much more likely to have been speeding at the time. They were more likely to have a history of prior violations, car accidents or license suspensions.
In the same study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that of the car accident fatalities in 2012, at least 132 could have been avoided if all drivers who had blood alcohol concentration levels of .08% or higher had been prevented from driving. The Institute is recommending expansion of ignition interlock system laws to help keep more intoxicated drivers off the road.
The Indiana personal injury lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy LLP represent persons injured in accidents across Indiana.