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What Everyone Needs to Know to Avoid Drunk Driving Accidents
(& the Worst States for Drunk Driving)


Drunk driving is surprisingly common in the United States, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).


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Campaigns against drunk driving -- like this one -- are helping to spread the word about the consequences of driving while under the influence.

About 15 percent of U.S. adults have driven while under the influence of alcohol in the past year. And in some states, that percentage is as high as 26. Meanwhile, another 4.7 percent of adults drove while under the influence of drugs.

"This report highlights the enormous public health risk posed by this problem -- one threatening the lives of many Americans every day," SAMHSA administrator Terry Cline said.

Over 30 Million Drunk Drivers Every Year: Which States are the Worst?

In 2006 alone, the report found that 30.5 million people aged 12 and older had driven while under the influence of alcohol. Another 10.2 million drove while under the influence of drugs including marijuana, cocaine, crack, inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin, or prescription drugs used recreationally.

Traffic accidents involving alcohol can often be deadly. Of the nearly 42,000 people who die in vehicle crashes each year, over 16,000 of them are related to alcohol, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Of course, drunk-driving accidents can happen anywhere, anytime, but SAMHSA's report revealed that certain states are especially dangerous.

All alcohol-related vehicle accidents are 100 percent avoidable by not drinking and driving.

The worst states for drunk driving are:

  • Wisconsin (over 26 percent of residents drove drunk in the past year)

  • North Dakota (25 percent)

  • Minnesota (24 percent)

  • Nebraska (23 percent)

  • South Dakota (22 percent)

Utah had the fewest drunk drivers, with 9.5 percent of residents acknowledging such behavior.

In terms of driving under the influence of illicit drugs, the worst states were:

  • The District of Columbia (7 percent)

  • Rhode Island (7 percent)

  • Massachusetts (6 percent)

  • Montana (6 percent)

  • Wyoming (6 percent)

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

Three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lives, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). And, on average, someone is killed by a drunk driver in the United States every 39 minutes.

You can help to reduce these odds, first and foremost, by not driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you know you will be drinking, NHTSA offers these three simple steps that could save your (and someone else's) life:

  1. Designate a sober driver

  2. Take a taxi or call a safe ride program

  3. Make arrangements to spend the night where you are

Parents can help too by talking to their teens about driving drunk. Even kids under the age of 21 need to know the consequences of drunk driving, as over 10 percent of alcohol-impaired driving trips are made by 18 to 20-year-olds.

MADD has an excellent Web site for kids under 21 that can help you to initiate this crucial conversation with your children.

Recommended Reading

The 6 Most Common Causes of Automobile Crashes

Alcohol and Alcoholism in the U.S. -- The Shockingly High Numbers Revealed


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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