The sobering facts about drunk driving accidents in Texas.
Texas unfortunately leads the nation when it comes to the number of fatal drunk driving accidents, with nearly 40 percent of all traffic fatalities being attributed to alcohol.
Every year over 1,000 Texans lose their lives in drunk driving crashes. In addition to the pain and turmoil experienced by these victims and their families, drunk drivers are costing taxpayers in our state over $6 billion a year in subsidies.
The data below clearly shows that there’s a big problem in our state, and we all must do more as a community to prevent drunk driving. This includes raising awareness, increasing criminal penalties (even for 1st-time offenders), reporting suspected drunk drivers to the police, and reporting bars which violate alcohol service laws to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC).
While the number of alcohol-related car accidents has dropped significantly in the last decade, the truth is that every single one of these crashes could have been avoided.
Drunk driving accident statistics in Texas.
- In 2015, there were 25,479 alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes on Texas roads.
- Out of these 25,479 accidents, at least 15,687 people were injured.
- On average, our state sees about one drunk driving crash every 20 minutes.
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 1,323 Texans were killed in drunk driving accidents in 2015 (BAC ≥ 0.08%).
- The 1,323 deaths caused by drunk drivers in 2015 accounted for a staggering 38% of ALL traffic fatalities in the state of Texas.
- Over 70% of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal accidents had BAC readings of 0.15% or higher (more than twice the legal limit). Of those, 75% were found to be repeat offenders.
- In Dallas alone, there were over 1,250 alcohol-related crashes reported in 2015 (638 in Fort Worth).
- 22.5% of all fatal DWI accidents occur between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m.
- Over 21% of all alcohol-related accident fatalities occur to those between the ages of 21 and 25.
- More than 90,000 drivers are arrested each year on DUI or DWI charges in Texas.
- The average person drives drunk over 80 times before they are finally arrested or involved in an accident.
- In 2014, drunk driving fatalities increased by 8.2% in Texas from the prior year, yet the number of arrests actually decreased.
Reducing the number of drunk drivers on our roads.
In 2015, the Texas legislature passed a MADD-backed bill (HB 2246) which may help lower some of these worrying statistics. The new law would allow anyone convicted of DWI to drive—provided they have an ignition interlock system (breathalyzer) installed in their car.
While you might be confused as to how this a good thing, consider the fact that 50-70% of drivers with suspended licenses continue to drive even without a valid license. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, ignition interlocks protect the public while allowing offenders to continue with their jobs, family obligations and other responsibilities. In fact, MADD even says that ignition interlocks have reduced drunk driving deaths in other states by 30 to 45 percent!
Another part of the problem is with regard to the service of alcohol. There are rules when it comes to serving alcohol, and these rules are designed to protect the community. In most states (including Texas) dram shop laws work to hold a drinking establishment (e.g., bar, club, restaurant) partially liable for injuries resulting from the over-service of alcohol. By placing liability on bars which blatantly over-serve alcohol (in violation of TABC guidelines), you force the bar to act more-responsibly and not place profits ahead of safety.
Police are doing their part by increasing the number of no-refusal periods and DUI task force operations, but are not currently permitted to set up sobriety checkpoints. Courts have ruled that at minimum, sobriety checkpoints must be “authorized by a statewide policy governing checkpoints,” but Texas currently has no such policy.
At the end of the day, drunk driving puts the lives of innocent people at risk, and responsible alcohol use must be coupled with stricter laws and community outreach programs to truly make a difference. Our state may have a long way to go, but your involvement matters!