Alcohol-related traffic crashes in the United States

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Alcohol-related traffic crashes are defined by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as alcohol-related if either a driver or a non-motorist had a measurable or estimated BAC of 0.01 g/dl or above.[1]

This statistic includes any and all vehicular (including bicycle and motorcycle) accidents in which any alcohol has been consumed, or believed to have been consumed, by the driver, a passenger or a pedestrian associated with the accident. Thus, if a person who has consumed alcohol and has stopped for a red light is rear-ended by a completely sober but inattentive driver, the accident is listed as alcohol-related, although alcohol had nothing to do with causing the accident. Furthermore, if a sober motorist hits a drunk pedestrian, the accident is also listed as alcohol-related. Alcohol-related accidents are often mistakenly confused with alcohol-caused accidents. Many[who?] have criticized the NHTSA for compiling this statistic since it gives the impression that drunk drivers cause a much higher percentage of accidents and does not accurately reflect the problem of drunk driving in the United States.

Nationally, 12.8% of all drivers involved in fatal accidents during 2001 are known to have been intoxicated according to the blood alcohol concentration (BAC laws) of their state.[2] This number is based on a systematic examination of the official records of each and every accident involving a fatality during that year in the US.[citation needed] However, a majority of fatalities resulting from car accidents involving alcohol are from sober drivers who are hit by drunk drivers.

The higher number (about 40%) commonly reported refers to accidents defined as alcohol-related as estimated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Each year, The Century Council, a national non-profit organization funded by a group of alcohol manufacturers, compiles a document of alcohol-related traffic fatalities. Between 1991 and 2006, the rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities (ARTF) per 100,000 population has decreased 26% nationally, and 28% among youth under 21.[3]

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