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Drunk Driving Statistics and Countermeasures


Although issues such as overspeeding or driving while texting form part of the major causes of road accidents, this paper reveals drunk driving as another key factor responsible for deaths reported on many roads not only in the U.S. but also in other countries around the globe. Various mechanisms can be deployed to address cases of drunk driving. In addition to the use of drug detectors such as breathalyzers and the establishment of more enforcement personnel, drivers who threaten the lives of vehicle occupants can be penalized strictly, for instance, by having their road credentials withdrawn.

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What Is Meant by Drunk Driving

Handling any vehicle while drunk is presented as one of the principal distracted driving habits (Hansen 1581; Porter 863). Drunk drivers handle their respective personal or public service vehicles, despite being linked to “addiction and substance abuse” (Hansen 1581) cases. Light et al., whose study is focused on drunk driving in America, present this habit as a health issue that has been associated with drivers who have caused accidents because of “drug overdoses and alcohol-related” (1448) reasons.

Hence, the subject under investigation is critical because of its economic and health implications. According to Light et al., some of the related medical issues include trauma, stress, and liver cancer, among others, all of which are expensive to address (1448). With this brief overview, it is crucial to examine statistical findings regarding drunk driving, particularly the number of fatalities reported and the cost incurred by economies such as the U.S.

Drunk Driving Statistics

Despite the establishment of many advanced measures for curbing drunk driving, for instance, the use of breathalyzers or limiting the particular culprit’s road service delivery privileges (Hansen 1582; Porter 864), it is alarming that the number of road accidents associated with intoxicated drivers continues to increase. The article by Light et al. reveals a worrying trend that has been observed in America since the 1990s (1448).

According to these authors, “nearly 1 million persons in the United States have died of drug overdoses and alcohol-related crashes” (Light et al. 1448). Findings of another study focusing on various states in the U.S., such as California, West Virginia, and Illinois, among others, indicate that indeed cases of drunk driving have been increasing since 1995 (Chihuri and Li 1487). In particular, reported incidents of wounded drivers who were arrested handling vehicles while under the influence of opioids “increased from 1.0% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.5, 1.4) in 1995 to 7.2% (95% CI = 5.7, 8.8) in 2015” (Chihuri and Li 1487). Such drugs threaten the lives of drivers and passengers because they are linked to sleepiness and interrupted cognition.

Although other scholars such as Sloan et al. give different observations indicating that drunk driving levels have been on a downward trend, they all agree that handling any vehicle while intoxicated is a significant cause of deaths reported in various American states such as North Carolina (416). As Gjerde et al. reveal, “there seems not to have been an increase in the prevalence of driving while intoxicated (DWI)” (2221), regardless of the rising number of alcohol users in countries such as Norway.

However, despite drivers being caught and punished severely for driving while under the influence of alcohol, re-arrest cases have been rising (Sloan et al. 416; Robertson et al. 598). For instance, out of the close to 1.5 million drivers apprehended in 2007 in North Carolina for transporting passengers or goods while drunk, 66% of them had previous arrest records related to similar criminal offenses, including being in the custody of invalidated licenses (Sloan et al. 416). These authors find, “many repeat offenders continue to drive with a revoked license” (Sloan et al. 418). Hence, with the above findings regarding drunk driving in various countries, including the U.S., it is crucial to investigate measures adopted to reduce such cases and, consequently, road accidents.

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Curbing Drunk Driving

Following the need to save the lives of huge numbers of people who use vehicles as a means of transport, various measures such as the formulation of recent bills to govern drivers (Shinkle et al. 25) have been put in place. In particular, American states, including Utah and Rhode Island, have introduced policies “requiring ignition interlocks for convicted drunken drivers” (Shinkle et al. 25). This approach has been effective because it bars a vehicle from starting if installed sensors detect alcohol contents from the vehicle handler’s breath. According to Teigen, this strategy can “reduce the rate of re-arrests for driving under the influence by up to 70 percent” (25).

In other countries, including the U.S., drunk drivers have been subjected to stricter fines in addition to having their licenses invalidated (Teigen 26). Another study by Yao et al. presents enforcement agencies as powerful tools that can help to eliminate or lower the number of drunk driving cases (448). This approach has been tested and proven effective in states such as Washington, DC.


Pedestrians or passengers using any means of traveling wish to reach their respective destinations safely. However, drunk driving has contributed to the premature deaths of many road users. Although other countries are equally affected, the U.S. seems to record the highest number of fatalities linked to drunk driving annually. Hence, measures such as the imposition of stricter fines, the execution of ignition interlock policies, and the deployment of more enforcement personnel can reduce drunk driving incidents and, consequently, road accidents in America and other countries.

Works Cited

Chihuri, Stanford, and Guohua Li. “Trends in Prescription Opioids Detected in Fatally Injured Drivers in 6 US States: 1995-2015.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 107, no. 9, 2017, pp. 1487-1492.

Gjerde, Hallvard, et al. “Increased Population Drinking is Not Always Associated with Increased Number of Drink Driving Convictions.” Addiction, vol. 108, no. 12, 2013, pp. 2221-2223.

Hansen, Benjamin. “Punishment and Deterrence: Evidence from Drunk Driving.” American Economic Review, vol. 105, no. 4, 2015, pp. 1581-1617.

Light, Michael, et al. “Undocumented Immigration, Drug Problems, and Driving Under the Influence in the United States, 1990-2014.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 107, no. 9, 2017, pp. 1448-1454.

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Porter, Lauren. “Trying Something Old: The Impact of Shame Sanctioning on Drunk Driving and Alcohol-Related Traffic Safety.” Law & Social Inquiry, vol. 38, no. 4, 2013, pp. 863-891.

Robertson, Angela, et al. “DUI Recidivism by Intervention Adherence: A Multiple Risk Factor Approach.” American Journal of Drug & Alcohol Abuse, vol. 42, no. 5, 2016, pp. 597-605.

Shinkle, Douglas, et al. “Safety Takes a U-Turn: After a Spike in Traffic Deaths, Lawmakers are Looking to Improve Roadway Safety.” State Legislatures, vol. 43, no. 4, 2017, pp. 24-27.

Sloan, Frank, et al. “Deterring Rearrests for Drinking and Driving.” Southern Economic Journal, vol. 83, no. 2, 2016, pp. 416-436.

Teigen, Anne. “Locked Out! Today’s Ignition Interlock Systems, Along with Better Monitoring and Stricter Penalties, Are Making Our Roads Safer.” State Legislatures, vol. 42, no. 3, 2016, pp. 25-27.

Yao, Julie, et al. “Enforcement Uniquely Predicts Reductions in Alcohol-Impaired Crash Fatalities.” Addiction, vol. 111, no. 3, 2016, pp. 448-453.

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