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40 Million in U.S. Driving Drunk or Drugged
Date:12/9/2010

younger drivers much more likely to drive while impaired. Drivers aged 16 to 25 had a much higher rate of drunk driving, compared with those aged 26 and older (19.5 percent vs. 11.8 percent). Those aged 16 to 25 also had a higher rate of drugged driving than those aged 26 and older (11.4 percent vs. 2.8 percent).

"Parents and community leaders need to be thinking about what they can do to help young people make good decisions and not make bad decisions about drinking or drugging and driving," Delany said.

On the plus side, there has been a small drop in the rate of drunk and drugged driving in the past few years.

Data from 2002 to 2005 shows the annual rate of drunk driving has dropped from 14.6 percent to 13.2 percent, compared with data from 2006 to 2009. In the same time periods, the annual rate of drugged driving dropped from 4.8 percent to 4.3 percent, according to the report.

In all, 12 states had a reduction in drunk driving, and seven have seen lower levels of drugged driving.

Why there have been drops in the number of people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs isn't clear, Delany said. "I suspect we are having some impact on getting the message out that this is not safe, and I expect a lot of the police enforcement is helping," he said.

However. one in three car accident deaths (33 percent) were due to driving while high on an illegal drug, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations Fatal Accident Reporting System.

These figures are based on dated from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, which involves reports from more than 423,000 people aged 16 and over.

Anna Duerr, a spokeswoman for the advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said her organization was pleased to see a decline in the numbers of drunk and drugged drivers. "However, the problem is far from solved," she said. "Nationwide in 2009, 10,839 people were killed in drunk driving crashes."
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