The Traffic Injury Research Foundation USA (TIRF) has released the 2017 results from their annual Road Safety Monitor, a public opinion survey focusing on self-reported drunk and dangerous driving behaviors. TIRF is reporting a decrease of self-reported drunk driving since the survey’s first release in 2015, suggesting that Americans are becoming more conscious of making dangerous driving decisions and of their alternative transportation options should they choose to drink.
Are Drivers Becoming More Aware of Dangerous Decisions?
Between 2015 and 2016, the poll results showed a substantial increase of Americans who admitted to driving drunk in the last 12 months, from 8% to 11.7%, coinciding with an increased rate of alcohol-involved traffic fatalities in 2016. However, TIRF’s 2017 data shows that 9.2% of U.S. drivers reported that they drove over the legal limit in the last 12 months, with 2.2% doing so “often or very often”—a decrease from 5.5% in 2016 and 4% in 2015.
Additionally, 2017 saw lower percentages in all categories of self-reported dangerous driving behaviors, including speeding, driving while tired or fatigued, and distracted driving.
Top Reported Reasons People Drive Impaired
The most commonly reported reasons people chose to drive when they thought they were above the legal limit remained relatively consistent with previous years’ results:
- 48.6% of surveyed drivers stated they got behind the wheel while intoxicated because they “thought they were OK to drive,” a 4.9% increase from 2016
- 12.8% chose to drive impaired because they were “not very far away” from their destination
- 10.6% believed they “could drive carefully”
However, the percentage of people that believed they “had no alternative” was almost cut in half at 4.7% (from 8.7% in 2016), suggesting that the use of transportation alternatives, such as ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, is gaining popularity across the country. But, with almost half of surveyed drivers believing they were fine to drive after drinking indicates that more education on the dangers and consequences of this behavior may be needed.
While a decrease in self-reported drunk driving is great news, one good year does not make a trend. This is why TIRF, among other agencies and organizations, continue to bring attention to the dangers of alcohol-impaired driving—developing and sharing knowledge that saves lives.