Vehicle safety advocacy groups and state lawmakers have worked diligently over the last several decades to help reduce the number of fatal drunk driving accidents in the United States. However, the unfortunate fact remains that the toll from impaired driving is still very high despite these efforts.
To illustrate, recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that there were 9,878 wrongful deaths in 2011 alone that could be attributed to car accidents in which drivers had a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.
While these NHTSA statistics clearly reveal that more work remains to be done in the fight against drunk driving, they also reveal that more work remains to be done in the fight against another surprisingly deadly practice: drunk walking.
According to the NHTSA, 1,547 of the 4,432 pedestrians killed in 2011 -- the most recent year for which such data is available -- had a blood alcohol content above the legal driving limit.
Breaking the numbers down further, the agency reached the following shocking conclusions concerning drunk walking fatalities:
- Half of the pedestrians killed between the ages of 25-34 were impaired
- Just under half of the pedestrians killed in their early 20s, mid 30s and mid 50s were impaired
- A third of the pedestrians killed who were over age 55 or under 20 were impaired
Some safety experts are attributing these figures to the fact that drunk driving campaigns are actually encouraging people to walk home after having consumed too much to get behind the wheel of a car.
A more likely scenario, however, is that drunken pedestrians are simply prone to making poor -- and ultimately deadly -- decisions. This could everything from crossing against a traffic light, crossing in the wrong place, walking in the road instead of on the sidewalk and misjudging the speed of traffic.
It remains to be seen what steps can be taken to help address the problem of drunk walking. Here's hoping that people continue to make the safest decision, and simply secure a ride from a designated driver or taxi.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by the negligence of another, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced and dedicated attorney.
Source: USA Today, "Drunk walking leads to pedestrian fatalities," Joan Lowy, August 5, 2013