Study shows discrepancy in recording drunk driving deaths

A new study has revealed that drunk driving is causing seven times more deaths than have been recorded by state and local authorities. The researchers looked at state and local death certificates for cases where one cause of death was an alcohol-related crash, and found that the number was dramatically lower than that reported by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, which gathers information from police reports. The disconnect between the two may be confusing to many who think that the process should be more contiguous. However, death certificates are produced within days of a fatal accident, often before test results can come back with definitive information about the sobriety of the driver.

These statistics might not seem important but when it comes to policy making and figuring out how to best reduce the number of drunk driving fatalities, the total and the details of the situation are very important. It also matters that the public is aware of this problem and understands the gravity of the decision to get behind the wheel after having consumed alcohol.

In fact, these new findings have encouraged some safety experts to being advocating more strongly for a reduced legal blood alcohol content, seeking a new limit of .05 instead of .08.

Making that decision to get behind the wheel after drinking is incredibly dangerous, as the thousands of deaths attributed to drunk driving each year demonstrate. When individuals make this decision they must be held responsible for the damage they cause, both in a criminal action and through efforts by the family of the victim.

Source: Think Progress, “The Surprising Issue That May Be Holding Back Effective Drunk Driving Laws,” Sy Mukherjee, March 24, 2014.

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