Alcohol-impaired driving caused 10,839 deaths in 2009. Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities as a percentage of all motor vehicle fatalities decreased from 1982 to 1999 but have remained stable since. Understanding characteristics of those who engage in this behavior is critical to achieving future reductions.
The purpose of this study is to estimate the number of episodes of self-reported alcohol-impaired driving and to explore the related demographic factors and drinking patterns.
Data from the 2006 and 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System were used in 2010 to produce annualized estimates of alcohol-impaired driving episodes. Logistic regression modeling was used to explore the effects of drinking patterns, seatbelt use, and sociodemographics.
The percentage of the population reporting at least one alcohol-impaired driving episode in the past 30 days was 2.2% for 2006 and 2008 combined. The number of annualized episodes of alcohol-impaired driving was 147 million. Annualized episode rates varied across states from 165 to 1242 episodes per 1000 population. Characteristics associated with alcohol-impaired driving differed by gender. The strongest correlate of alcohol-impaired driving was binge drinking, with those reporting binge drinking at least once per month being five to six times as likely to report alcohol-impaired driving when adjusting for all other variables.
Understanding who is most likely to report alcohol-impaired driving is important in developing interventions to prevent this behavior. Interventions that are known to be effective, such as sobriety checkpoints and installing ignition interlocks on the vehicles of people convicted of alcohol-impaired driving, should be widely implemented.
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