State Drunk Driving Deaths Drop To Lowest Level Since 1999
Alcohol-related fatalities declined significantly in 2003, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced. The decline was led by impaired driving reductions in 28 states, and is the first drop in the level since 1999.
Moreover, NHTSA said that alcohol-related fatalities dropped in 12 of 13 states that participated in an intense, multi-faceted NHTSA-funded campaign to reduce their severe impaired driving problems.
A total of 17,013 alcohol-related fatalities were recorded in 2003, down by 511, or almost 3 percent, from the total of 17,524 recorded in 2002. The greatest reduction in fatalities was among those in crashes where the highest blood-alcohol content (BAC) was .08 and above.
The decline comes as all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have enacted laws making a BAC of .08 the legal definition of impaired driving.
Twelve of the 28 states that had decreases in alcohol-related fatalities were Strategic Evaluation States (SES), accounting for 75 percent of the total reduction in alcohol-related fatalities. The dozen states were Arizona, Alaska, California, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and West Virginia.
The SES states, supported by funding from NHTSA, have taken a leadership role in reducing impaired driving that includes sustained enforcement, periodic enforcement crackdowns, and paid media advertising funded by Congress.