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Alcohol Res Health. 2003;27(1):63-78.

Epidemiology and consequences of drinking and driving.

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  • 1Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Alcohol is a major factor in traffic crashes, and crashes involving alcohol are more likely to result in injuries and deaths than crashes where alcohol is not a factor. Increasing blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) have been linked to increased crash risk. Male drivers, particularly those ages 22 to 45; people with drinking problems and prior drinking and driving convictions; and drivers who do not wear safety belts are disproportionately likely to be involved in alcohol-related fatal crashes. Alcohol-dependent people are over-represented in all alcohol-related traffic crashes, as are those who begin drinking at younger ages. Though there are more than 82 million drinking-driving trips in a given year at BACs of 0.08 percent and higher (and 10 percent of drinking-driving trips are at BACs of 0.08 percent and higher), there are only 1.5 million arrests for drinking and driving each year. Despite overall marked reductions in alcohol-related traffic deaths since the early 1980s, there has been little reduction since the mid-1990s, and alcohol-related traffic deaths have increased slightly in the past 3 years.

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