Healthy People 2010 - With Annotations
26-1. Reduce deaths and injuries caused by alcohol- and drug-related motor vehicle crashes.
Target setting method: Consistent with the U.S. Department of Transportation for 26-1a; 47 percent improvement for 26-1b.
Progress has been achieved in reducing the rate of alcohol-related driving fatalities, which declined from 9.8 deaths per 100,000 population in 1987 to 6.1 deaths per 100,000 in 1997. However, fatal injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes in which either a driver or nonoccupant (that is, pedestrian or bicyclist) was under the influence of alcohol or drugs remain a serious problem in the United States.
Of particular concern is the fatality rate among Native Americans and persons aged 15 to 24 years. In 1994, the alcohol involvement rate in fatal traffic crashes for American Indian or Alaska Native men was four times higher (28 per 100,000 population) than for the general population. For persons aged 15 to 24 years, the rate was 11.7 per 100,000 population in 1997. Based on these rates, about 3 in every 10 persons in the United States will be involved in an alcohol-related crash sometime in their lives. The alcohol-related traffic fatality rate for youth, however, has decreased by more than 50 percent since 1982, from 22 deaths per 100,000 population to 10 deaths per 100,000 population in 1996. (57) The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that since 1975, over 17,300 lives have been saved by enforcement of minimum drinking age laws.(57)
The number of children who are victims of alcohol- and drug-related traffic crashes also is significant. In 1997, of traffic crashes in which 3,157 children under age 16 years were killed, nearly 21 percent were alcohol related.
Crash-related injuries also are a serious problem. In 1997, crash-related injuries totaled 3,399,000, compared to 41,967 crash-related deaths.(58) A reduction in all injuries resulting from alcohol- and drug-related driving is needed. Such injuries significantly contribute to emergency department use and overall health care costs and cause personal tragedies for families.
Although alcohol and its relationship to motor vehicle crashes has been studied more extensively than other substances, tracking drug-related fatalities and injuries is needed. This extension will promote the understanding that driving while under the influence of drugs is a serious problem and will help reduce drug-related fatalities.
Reductions in traffic crashes are the result, in part, of many policy and program measures -- among them, raising the minimum legal drinking age to 21 years,(59) administrative revocation of licenses for drinking and driving,(60) lower legal blood alcohol limits for youth (41) and adults, (42) and higher prices through increased taxation of alcoholic beverages.(48), (49) Higher prices for alcoholic beverages also are associated with reduced frequency of drinking and driving.(50) In addition, community programs involving multiple city departments and private citizens have reduced both driving after drinking and traffic deaths and injuries.(43)
Last modified: 15-Mar-2000.