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|
|District of Columbia||10||38%||66.7%|
States with lowest % of alcohol-impaired deaths in 2016
|Drunk Driving Deaths||% of Total Traffic Fatalities||% change from 2015|
See the results for all states and read the full 2016 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview here.