Drunk Driving Laws Don’t Work?

I was reading an article the other day. or perhaps just the title. Saw it on facebook and looked at the comments people were posting.

It was an article about texting while driving and the penalties being thought up by politicians.

I would see comments where people believe it should be treated like drunk driving. They want phones confiscated or licenses confiscated.

So, me, being someone who is concerned about creating laws that allows the government to potentially kill a person and also wondering about the potential for a texter to kill someone, decided to look up some statistics for drunk driving deaths, overall driving deaths, and total number of motor vehicle accidents.

So I came up with 3 charts:

 

This first chart is total number of motor vehicle accidents, in millions, over the years.

MotorVehicleAccidentsMillions'

 

This second chart is total number of deaths, in thousands, from motor vehicle accidents.MotorVehicleDeaths

This last chart is total number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents that were alcohol related.AlcoholRelatedMVDeaths

 

It is pretty obvious that alcohol related deaths has dropped fairly dramatically over the last 30 years. So we can say, YAY, the DUI laws are working…right?

Well, lets go up to the second chart. It had a sort of dramatic drop in overall deaths at first, and then also a fairly dramatic drop at the end. Which can be thought of to correlate with the drops at the beginning and end of the Alcohol related deaths, but we have an interesting situation in that while alcohol related deaths had been trending down, a few times it went up, overall deaths had mostly either been steady or trending up a bit, over the past 30 years. It seems as if non-alcohol related deaths fill in where there are fewer alcohol related deaths.

But, you know, it isn’t always about the deaths. A motor vehicle accident can have life changing consequences without actually causing a death. So, what about overall accidents? Shouldn’t we see a decline in total number of accidents if there are laws in place that disallow drunk driving? To me, reducing accidents would also be a good thing even if it doesn’t particularly mean reduced number of deaths.

So we look at the first chart which appears to almost show a roller coaster as far as total number of accidents. First we had a dramatic drop, then it climbed back up over 10 years, back to where it was 30 years ago, then had another dramatic drop and has been fairly steady since.

I will have to do a bit more research to see what the accident statistics are as far as alcohol. I need to find out how many are alcohol related and if the trend is the same as deaths that are alcohol related. For now, with this set of data, it appears that DUI laws have really done little to nothing as far as protecting people from motor vehicle deaths and accidents.

 

Sources:

http://www.alcoholalert.com/drunk-driving-statistics.html

http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s1103.pdf

http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/by_the_numbers/drunk_driving/html/figure_01.html

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