Most people are familiar with the idea that drunk driving is a problem, but don’t know the details. There have been many organizations and advertising campaigns designed to educate drivers about the responsible use of alcohol by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Ad Council, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), just to name a few. There have also been many city and state-level efforts towards education and prevention by law enforcement agencies to discourage drinking and driving. But with all of this attention, how big of a problem is drunk driving, really? Why does it get so much attention?
Here is a look at how big the problem of drunk driving is in Texas, how the state statistics stack up on a national level, and why it’s so important to hold drunk drivers legally accountable for their actions.
Texas Drunk Driving Statistics
Texas has a history of being one of the most dangerous states to drive in due to a high driving under the influence (DUI) death rate. The CDC reports that from 2003 to 2012, over 13,000 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes. That’s 13,138 preventable deaths on our roads in just a decade.
For a little perspective, consider the fact that 13,138 people could fill up nearly one-third of Minute Maid Park in Houston, or over a quarter of the seats in the upcoming Globe Life Park being built in Arlington.
While the majority of Texas DUI victims were between 21 and 34 years old, no age range was left untouched. Over three-quarters of those who were killed were males. The overall rate of death of all Texans due to alcohol-related accidents was 4.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2012.
The latest numbers from the Texas Department of Transportation don’t look good, either. In 2016, TxDOT reports that there were 884 fatal DUI crashes that resulted in 987 deaths. There were about twice as many non-fatal but incapacitating DUI crashes that year, severely injuring 2,302 people, and a total of almost 25,000 DUI accidents throughout the state altogether.
To put it another way, if each DUI accident took up a single seat in Minute Maid Park, over half the park would be full.
On a county-by-county basis, Harris County (Houston) ranked first in DUI crashes in Texas in 2016, totaling 2,941 accidents and 159 fatalities. Dallas County wasn’t far behind, at 2,410 DUI accidents, and Bexar County (San Antonio) faced 2,055 alcohol-related accidents.
Drunk Driving Is a National Problem
So how does Texas compare to the national statistics? The CDC reports that the national 2003-2012 death rate by alcohol-related crash was 3.3 people per 100,000. Unfortunately, Texans faced worse odds during that time, with a death rate of 4.9 per 100,000 people.
There were 10,497 alcohol-related fatalities nationwide in 2016, and 214 of those were children up to 14 years old.
Dealing With Drunk Driving Accidents in Texas
While years of advertising campaigns and advocacy has actually lowered DUI rates overall, the fact is that the statistics show there are too many accidents happening. On a national level, it continues to be a problem, but on a local level, Texas is facing an even greater challenge, as we consistently have some of the highest DUI rates in the country.
Perhaps the most tragic part of the situation is that DUI accidents and fatalities are completely preventable, which is why holding drunk drivers accountable is so important. Law enforcement can take care of the criminal penalties, but victims often need to stand up for their own rights and seek fair compensation with a civil lawsuit. This allows those who have been hurt and their families to recover costs related to the accident, such as hospital bills, physical therapy and rehabilitation, skilled nursing help or long-term care, and funeral costs, as well as repayment for pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and more.
If you or someone you love has been hurt or killed by a drunk driver, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We have made it our business to help those who have been hurt due to the recklessness, carelessness, or negligence of other people, and we are here to help your family when you need it the most.
To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced legal professional at Wayne Wright LLP, call us by phone today, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.