How Often Are Car Accidents Caused by Drunk Driving?

About one year ago, in October 2014, we published an article about the frequency of drunk driving accidents in Oklahoma. At that point in time, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO) reported that traffic fatalities involving intoxicated driving were down by 28% in 2013 from 2012. Has the trend continued, or is drunk driving on the rise again?

OHSO Reports on 2014 Car Accident Statistics

Every year, OHSO publishes a detailed series on statewide and city-specific crash data and statistics. This series is broken down by type of vehicle involved, type of human error involved, time of year, and other variables.

drunk driving dui

In 2013, 189 people lost their lives in fatal Oklahoma accidents attributed to drunk driving. While that’s 189 people too many, it still represents a dramatic reduction from the 261 alcohol-related deaths reported by OHSO in 2012. Though work remains to be done, this reduction indicates that Oklahoma was on the right path.

But has the trend continued?

In 2014, OHSO documented a total of 68,327 automotive accidents statewide – about 187 accidents every day, or close to eight every hour. Among these accidents:

  • 589 were fatal (resulting in 669 total fatalities).
  • 2,431 were classified as “incapacitating,” or resulting in serious injury.
  • 8,404 were classified as “non-incapacitating,” or resulting in mild to moderate injury.

Oklahoma County had the highest number of accidents (18,868), followed by Tulsa County with 12,733 accidents. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Harmon County reported the lowest number of accidents, with just 13 total. (Of course, this disparity is probably attributable to the vast difference in county populations: 755,245 in Oklahoma County, as compared to just 2,869 in Harmon County.) While OHSO has yet to release its city data for 2014, the 2013 city data noted 16,892 total crashes in Oklahoma City alone.

In 2014, crashes were most likely to occur:

  • In October.
  • On Fridays.
  • On clear weather days.
  • In darkness, without lighting.
  • Between 5:00 P.M. and 5:59 P.M.
  • In business/commercial areas.

These numbers give us the baseline – but how many crashes were attributed specifically to driving while intoxicated?

How Often Was Drunk Driving a Factor in Oklahoma Crashes?

Sadly, intoxicated driving is widespread enough that OHSO dedicates a full segment of its annual crash statistics to alcohol-related accidents alone. Indeed, the CDC reports in “Impaired Driving: Get the Facts” that about 30 people die in alcohol-related crashes every day, amounting to slightly more than one death every hour.

According to the most recent CDC data available (2012), Oklahoma’s rate of alcohol-related traffic deaths surpassed the national average by a wide margin across all age groups, as described below:

  • 10.5 (per 100,000) versus 6.7 for persons aged 21 to 34.
  • 5.8 versus 3.1 for persons aged 35 and up.
  • 5.6 versus 3.3 for persons of all ages.

In light of these large differences, it’s somewhat surprising that a nearly identical number of Oklahoma drivers and nationwide drivers reported “driving after drinking too much” (within a 30-day period). In fact, the Oklahoma percentage was slightly lower: 1.8% of adults, as opposed to 1.9% of adults nationwide.

safety first two hands on wheel

In its 2014 alcohol crash report, OHSO found that 3,558 total accidents statewide involved alcohol. This number represents approximately 5.2% of the 68,327 total accidents which occurred. In 2013, there were 69,430 total accidents, among which 5.5% (3,824) involved alcohol. This represents a small but nonetheless encouraging improvement from 2013 to 2014.

Among the 3,558 alcohol-related accidents reported by OHSO in 2014, 151 crashes were fatal, resulting in 172 fatalities according to the report on persons in alcohol-related crashes. This means that there were 17 fewer alcohol-related deaths in 2014 than in 2013.

While this decrease is less dramatic than the extraordinary 72-fatality decrease documented from 2012 to 2013, the numbers are slowly but surely continuing in the right direction: down. While only time will tell, the trend will hopefully continue well into 2015, 2016, and beyond.

OHSO also found that in 2014, alcohol-related crashes resulted in:

  • 399 incapacitating injuries (caused by 307 incapacitating crashes).
  • 938 non-incapacitating injuries (caused by 665 non-incapacitating crashes).

In 2014, crashes involving alcohol were most likely to occur:

  • In May (perhaps partially due to Memorial Day weekend celebrations).
  • On Saturdays.
  • On clear weather days.
  • In darkness, without lighting.
  • Between 2:00 A.M. and 2:59 A.M.
  • In “not built-up” areas.

If you were hit by a drunk driver in Oklahoma City or the surrounding area, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your pain, suffering, and financial losses, including medical bills and surgical costs. To talk about your accident in a free, private legal consultation, call the car accident attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook at (405) 698-3040. Our legal team combines more than 75 years of experience representing the injury victims of Oklahoma.