More than a quarter of the road users who lose their lives each year in Pennsylvania and around the country are killed in accidents involving drunk drivers. In addition to killing about 10,000 people every year, drunk and drugged driving is ruinous to the economy. Impaired driving costs the nation about $43 billion annually according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the problem is particularly serious in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania drunk driving deaths
California, Texas and Florida are the states with the highest populations, so it is not surprising that they are also the states with the most drunk driving deaths. What is surprising is that Pennsylvania has the fourth highest impaired driving death toll. Between 2003 and 2011, 4.663 road users were killed in drunk driving accidents in the Keystone State. In New York, which has almost 7 million more residents, there were 3,572 impaired driving fatalities during the same period.
Inexperience behind the wheel and intoxication are a deadly combination. The NHTSA collects information on all DUI crashes, and the data reveals that more than 40% of the drivers who die in these accidents are under 25 years of age. Studies have found that drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.10% or higher are seven times more likely to cause fatal accidents, which suggests that binge drinking could be a contributing factor in many of these deaths.
Drunk driving penalties are harsh, but the figures indicate that they are not much of a deterrent. Ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft have lowered the annual drunk driving death toll by more then 6% according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, which is a significant reduction. If programs were introduced to encourage ride sharing and educate the public about its benefits, the annual impaired driving death could fall even further.