Increase in Drunk Driving During Summer Months

As the summer approaches, more and more people will take advantage of the summer holidays and travel to visit friends and family. Unfortunately, summer is also one of the deadliest times to be on the road.

The U.S. Department of Transportation cites the holidays of Labor Day, Independence Day and Memorial Day as some of the most dangerous times to be driving. They trail only Thanksgiving in terms of the number of accidents and deaths on the road. Since 1982, each of these summer holidays has averaged over 500 traffic fatalities. The number of alcohol related deaths during this same time period has nearly doubled.

Younger Drivers at Risk

In Illinois, it is estimated the 47 percent of all motor vehicle crashes involve alcohol and the Illinois State Police cite alcohol as a factor in nearly 70% of all fatal accidents that occur between midnight and 3 a.m. It is, however, the younger drivers that are particularly at risk. According to the Illinois Secretary of State, those ages 21-34 are mostly responsible for alcohol related fatalities. Drivers under 21 are involved in 17% of all alcohol related fatalities, yet represent only 10% of the total number of licensed drivers.

Overall Decline in the Number of Fatalities

Since 1982, the overall number of alcohol-related driving fatalities in the United States has decreased precipitously from over 26,000 per year to around 13,000. In 1982, 60 percent of all traffic fatalities were caused by drivers with a blood alcohol content over .08%, the current legal limit. In 2008, that number had dropped to just 37 percent. Since 2002, all 50 states have had laws in place making it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content that is 0.08 percent or higher.

Despite this decline, law enforcement continues to make DUI enforcement one of its top priorities. During busy holiday weekends, police increase the number of patrols and DUI checkpoints. If you spot a suspected drunk driver on the road, it is recommended that you call the nearest state patrol or law enforcement agency with as much information about the vehicle and your location as possible.