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Newly released data from the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that both overall traffic deaths and alcohol-involved traffic fatalities increased in 2016 over the previous year. It’s the first time in more than a decade that deaths on America’s roads have increased for two consecutive years.

Nearly 2,000 more people were killed on U.S. roads in 2016 compared to 2015—a 5.6% increase. Alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities (defined as involving a driver with a BAC of 0.08 or higher) rose 1.7% to 10,497 people, compared to 10,320 in 2015.

NHTSA notes that drunk driving deaths accounted for just 28% of all traffic deaths, the lowest percentage since 1982. However, this change doesn’t signify progress toward fewer DUI deaths—it only indicates that drunk-driving deaths increased at a lower rate in 2016 compared to other categories, such as fatalities tied to speeding (+4%) and a lack of seatbelt use (+4.6%).

State Results Vary Widely

Trends in alcohol-impaired traffic deaths continue to differ sharply between states. Drunk driving deaths rose in 29 states and Washington D.C. Eight states (Alaska, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Utah, and Vermont) and Washington D.C. each saw more than a 20% increase in drunk driving deaths.

The highest increase in total alcohol-impaired deaths occurred in California (+148), Florida (+53), and Indiana (+39). Once again, Texas had the largest number of both overall traffic fatalities (3,776) and alcohol-impaired fatalities (1,438) in the country.

States with highest % of alcohol-impaired deaths in 2016
  Drunk Driving Deaths % of Total Traffic Fatalities % Change from 2015
Montana 85 45% 11.8%
North Dakota 50 45% 2%
Vermont 27 43% 80%
South Dakota 46 39% -11.2%
District of Columbia 10 38% 66.7%
Texas 1,438 38% 2.2%
States with lowest % of alcohol-impaired deaths in 2016
  Drunk Driving Deaths % of Total Traffic Fatalities % change from 2015
Mississippi 128 19% -27.7%
Utah 52 19% 20.9%
Arkansas 117 21% -25.9%
Kentucky 175 21% -6.9%
Tennessee 223 21% -1.2%

See the results for all states and read the full 2016 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview here.


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Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up: A blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice, is anything but a corporate blog. Sobering Up is an opportunity for anyone interested or involved in the issues of drunk driving, alcohol-fueled crime, alcohol dependence and addiction, and the justice system to participate in the conversation.


  1. U can’t punish people for mistakes . I did get a dui and instead of continuing the behavior I installed at blow device in my car that will prevent this for ever happening again. I am more responsible and I will never drink and drive again. This device is 50 a month and it is the best thing I’ve done for myself , family and other drivers!

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